COMMENT: Saab's Chinese whispers in Stockholm
Saab's merry-go-round continues to spin in ever-greater intensity with yet more bizarre developments, most notable of which is that the Swedish manufacturer still appears to be talking to the Chinese.
The automaker has pulled the plug on a proposed deal that saw Chinese manufacturer Youngman and distributor Pang Da suggest they buy 100% of Saab's shares.
Quite what the price put forward was, but it's a fair bet it fell woefully short of what Saab estimated 100% was worth, with the manufacturer branding the offer "unacceptable."
Now the administrator in charge of overseeing Saab's reorganisation wants its bankruptcy protection to end, potentially paving the way for creditors to take action, but what exactly would that achieve?
Precisely nothing, European automotive suppliers association (CLEPA) CEO Lars Holmqvist told just-auto. "If there is bankruptcy we lose everything," was the component chief's view, whose members are owed around EUR150m (US$208m).
But there appears to be more swirling around than just the bald facts of economics and the dry deliberations of administrators.
"Victor Muller of course has talked about foul play for two weeks," Holmqvist startlingly said. "I started believing there is some foul play going on in some plot to get rid of Victor Muller and most of all [Russian businessman] Vladimir Antonov as owners."
Ah yes, Mr Antonov. The Russian businessman has been quietly observing from afar as the byzantine Saab affair twists and turns every day.
That complexity now appears to have been given ever greater depth with the apparent introduction of domestic politics into the situation.
Antonov's aide Lars Carlstrom notes that should Saab fold, there are around 4,000 direct jobs at stake as well as a possible further 12,000 in the region of Western Sweden. A general election is not due for a while, but woe betide the government says Carlstrom that has a potential 16,000 job losses on its hands in a relatively small region.
And just to add a further dash of intrigue, despite the apparent stand-off between Saab and its erstwhile Chinese partners, it seems all may not be over.
Making a routine call today (25 October) to Youngman Saab project director Rachel Pang, she said she couldn't talk as she was in a meeting and that I should call later.
'Are you in Stockholm?' I asked. 'Yes,' she replied. Stockholm, not Zhejiang on China's Eastern seaboard.
Something might be afoot ahead of this Friday's (28 October) reorganisation update.