STEVE COLQUHOUN June 08, 2012
Could Saab be coming back?
A little-known EV firm could hold the key to a revival.
Defunct carmaker Saab may finally have found a saviour in National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), according to media reports.
The potential move has fuelled speculation that Saab’s future could be solely as a manufacturer of electric or alternative fuel cars.
Some Swedish media outlets report a deal has been done while others say a sale could be finalised before the end of this month, after NEVS submitted an offer in April.
A high-ranking municipal official in the Swedish city of Trollhattan, where Saab is based, told Swedish website www.ttela.se she believed a deal had been struck.
“We haven’t been told when they will let us know who the buyer is. They have told us the deal will be signed this week but it is always hard to give exact moments in this kind of business,” Trollhattan city manager Annika Wennerblom said.
Her comments were later labelled a “misinterpretation” by a city information officer, the website said.
Administrators for Saab have refused to confirm that an offer has been made, or state when an announcement of a successful bid may be forthcoming.
NEVS is a recently-formed consortium registered in Sweden. It was jointly founded by Chinese energy corporation National Modern Energy Holdings and the Japanese risk capital firm Sun Investment. It is believed to be headed by former Volvo Trucks president Karl-Erling Trogen.
A single-page website lists a cryptic mission statement: “Saab Automobile … stands for innovation and technology excellence. At Saab Automobile, the engagement for future transportation solutions is pervasive.”
Several Swedish media reports state NEVS is prepared to pay between 1.5 and 1.8 billion Swedish kronor ($A212-255 million) for Saab Automobile, which does not include the separate Saab Parts division.
It’s not known what arrangements would be put in place around Saab’s debt, which was reported in April to be 13 billion kronor ($A1.84 billion) while the company’s assets were valued at 3.6 billion kronor ($A510 million).
NEVS is the latest in a long list of suitors for Saab, which declared bankruptcy late last year. It is believed to be the only bidder to be registered in Sweden.
Chinese carmaker Youngman was the most recent, posting a bid of 2 billion kronor ($A283 million) earlier this year, but was thwarted by Saab’s former owner, US-based GM, which reportedly refused to transfer the necessary technology licences.
Indian-based company Mahindra and Mahindra has also made a bid for Saab, and Dutch supercar maker Spyker briefly owned it in 2010.
Fellow Swede Volvo – itself now owned by Chinese car maker Geely - has expressed interest in buying some of Saab’s machinery and test equipment.
Saab has some pedigree in electric vehicles, having unveiled the 9-3 ePower concept at the 2010 Paris motor show with a purported range of 200km. A test fleet began production in China last year but a full trial was never started because of the company’s financial difficulties.