SWEDEN: Youngman also mulls GM lawsuit as Saab story explodes again: Lars Holmqvist
Former head of Europe's automotive supplier body, CLEPA, Lars Holmqvist, says Chinese manufacturer, Youngman, is also considering suing General Motors as the furore surrounding the US automaker's exit from Saab gathers pace.
Previous Saab owner, Spyker CEO and former head of bankrupt Saab, Victor Muller, said yesterday he was filing a US$3bn lawsuit against GM for "unlawful actions," but Holmqvist's revelation of futher potential litigation is sure to set the cat among the pigeons even more.
"Youngman is also thinking about suing GM," Holmqvist told just-auto from Sweden. "I know that. They have not made up their minds and, of course, they would be encouraged by Victor Muller's lawsuit.
"I have information. I know from people...they are looking into the possibility. It is obvious because they spent SEK550m...securing the rights to the new platform."
Muller alleged GM deliberately drove Saab into bankruptcy by interfering in Youngman's attempts to buy Saab - a claim the Detroit automaker vehemently contests - and has secured what it describes as a "third party investor" to back the lawsuit.
"I hope Detroit takes it seriously because the one thing about Victor Muller is he is smart, a lawyer," added Holmqvist. "This is going to cost a lot of money. He has got more energy than the whole management group of GM put together."
The former CLEPA CEO also maintained that, should Muller's huge US$3bn litigation prove successful, some finance could even trickle back to Saab's myriad suppliers whom Holmqvist has previously estimated are owed around EUR300m.
"If it comes to a case whereby GM has to pay some form of compensation, part of that will go to Saab," said Holmqvist. "Saab is bankrupt and, as long as the administrators are there and there is anything connected to the bankruptcy, part of that has to go to Saab and then to creditors.
"There is a lot of evidence GM was sabotaging negotiations even though it was not breaking the contract between GM and Saab."
GM however, has responded strongly to that suggestion, with a spokesman from Germany telling just-auto: "In general, on that topic of Spyker, we are saying we looked at the lawsuit and we think it is completely without merit. We think that answers that allegation."
The US automaker added for good measure: "We have reviewed the complaint and it is completely without merit. We will vigorously defend the company against these baseless allegations."
The identity of Muller's 'third party' investor backing the lawsuit remains a mystery, but Holmqvist maintained it was not controversial Russian businessman, Vladimir Antonov, whose repeated attempts to invest in Saab were dealt a fatal blow by the European Investment Bank's refusal to countenance his involvement.
"It is not Antonov," said Holmqvist. "He [Muller] would not be stupid enough to trace anything back to Antonov. The whole Antonov story is finished."
But even the huge lawsuit filed yesterday may not be the end of the tortuous Saab story with the former CLEPA head maintaining there were further seismic shocks to come.
"There are very strange things that happen," said Holmqvist. "I see some papers and emails that are very interesting regarding the action of GM. It is not going away.
"I suspect we have another scandal coming up. If this ball starts rolling, there will be more balls rolling."
Youngman was not immediately available for comment.
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