COMMENT: Muller hoping revenge is best served cold
Well, guess who let that genie out of the bottle?
The irrepressible Victor Muller, that's who, a man never knowingly kept out of the headlines as Saab began its long, slow descent into bankruptcy, has re-emerged with a bang, launching an eye-watering US$3bn lawsuit against, who else, General Motors.
Just as the baddie in a British pantomime to be regularly booed and hissed at, GM must be heaving a weary sigh in the RenCen as yet another missile from Sweden, more accurately Holland this time, is lobbed in its direction.
But now the missiles are not recalcitrant German unions worried about restructuring, not even bolshie French ones militating on the joint venture with PSA, but good old Victor and his army of expensive DC lawyers.
Dan Akerson and Co must view Muller as something of an irritating fly - tiny enough to have the big guns of Detroit swatting away - but nonetheless always and annoyingly popping up when they least want it.
It might seem as if David is fighting Goliath all over again, but former lawyer, Muller, is no mug as freshly-retired CEO of European automotive suppliers association, CLEPA, Lars Holmqvist, told me this week.
"I hope Detroit takes it seriously because the one thing about Victor Muller is he is smart, a lawyer," said Holmqvist. "This is going to cost a lot of money. He has got more energy than the whole management group of GM put together."
It seems Muller and his attorneys in Washington - the delightfully-named Patton Boggs - are serious about their mammoth claim - lacing it with some spicy language.
A quick look at that claim sees words and phrases such as "unlawful actions," "massive damages," "justice is done" and the final flourish: "until GM destroyed those efforts and deliberately drove Saab Automobile into bankruptcy," an explosive cocktail of language that has Victor's stamp all over it.
Victor is ever the showman but even he, despite the brave words, must now be nervously eyeing Detroit, whose huge firepower will now be firmly trained on him at his home on the Mediterranean island of Majorca.
But Muller lacks nothing in bravado and has got his ducks in a row early, although what is equally certain is GM's just-as-clever attorneys are now running a forensic rule across the Dutchman's copious documents.
"They thought they could get away with it," Muller told me from Majorca. "They thought Spyker would die and Saab - it was a very understandable thought. "If Saab could go down, how could a small parent survive? Now we are back to haunt them."
Muller's strike has not been a last-minute thought of course. It appears plotting for the attack began almost as soon as Saab collapsed into bankruptcy at the end of last year, with Muller noting: "Ever since we were forced to file for Saab's bankruptcy in December of last year, we have worked relentlessly on the preparation for this lawsuit."
The eight months or so have also given Muller time to find a backer for his audacious punt at GM, but now the real question must be, who is the mystery bankroller prepared to open their chequebook - and take the not-inconsiderable risk they could be liable for massive costs should Muller lose.
Given Saab's previous involvement with controversial businessman, Vladimir Antonov, the Russian's name was the first to spring to many people's lips, but Muller is adamant he is firmly out of the picture, but is coyly refusing to reveal the identity of his deep-pocketed sponsor.
"Is it Antonov?," Muller told me. "No it is not - Antonov has very, very different fish to fry.
"It is not Youngman - it is [an] independent who has committed to fund the litigation - they work on the base of anonymity. Antonov is involved in this matter in no way, shape or form, nowhere to be seen."
The Dutchman has also added a dose of mischievousness by filing the complaint in the eastern district of GM's backyard, Michigan, but is there a smoking gun, a rabbit Muller is about to pull out of the hat?
He's had the last eight months to stew, the last eight months to hatch a response to what he feels is GM's seeming intransigence. And talking of GM, what has their response been? It issued a terse statement this week, dismissing Muller's complaint as "completely without merit" and "baseless."
What can GM do? In the PR battle, there's only one winner with the majority backing the underdog.
And does Muller ever feel he maybe bit off more than he could chew with the niche Swedish operation, that he is railing Canute-like against what GM would simply claim is its right to protect its business?
"I don't regret taking on Saab," he said. "But I regret what has happened to Saab as a result of certain parties being a little less co-operative or proactively negative."
Muller will be hoping revenge is a dish best served cold.