So this really is D-day or even D-hour for Saab.
All the brouhaha, all the hubub and noises off, comes down to this. A decision by the Vanersborg District Court considering Saab’s application to enter voluntary reorganistion and receive protection from its numerous creditors and unhappy unions could be given this afternoon.
There is a substantial body in Sweden that thinks the market should take its course and Saab should enter bankruptcy. Even the ebullient and super-confident Saab CEO Victor Muller yesterday (7 September) conceded: “If [we] won’t be able to go through our reorganisation, our union friends will have to file for bankruptcy and rightly so,” he said. “We don’t want our employees to suffer one day longer.”
Those employees may be about to find out if they have a future or not at the Trollhattan factory, whose production lines have been eerily silent for the past four months – give or take a phantom restart that may have been as much about impressing potential Chinese investors as much as anything else.
What is remarkable about this situation as Saab enters the most tense period of its already-precarious existence is the almost complete silence of the Swedish government.
Stockholm is potentially looking at around 4,000 redundancies in the Trollhattan region, followed by what some have speculated could up to 10,000 total job losses as the implications of any Saab demise ripple out from Western Sweden to myriad suppliers both at home and abroad.
Muller couldn’t resist having a pop at that Swedish government in Trollhattan as he waits for the Vanersborg Court to deliver its judgement, decrying the apparent lack of interest from the authorities in his uber-keen partner, Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov.
Muller claims Antonov was willing to inject EUR100m into Saab – a tidy sum given the automaker’s predicament and as well as launching a broadside at the government he fired a salvo at the European Investment Bank in Luxembourg.
“He [Antonov] feels, rightly so I would say, extremely upset with the process. He has been approved by the SNDO and since then total silence, both from the EIB and the Swedish government. It is extremely frustrating,” he noted. “We spent a year-and-a-half fighting windmills.”
Muller’s Dutch, that windmill analogy seems pretty apt. Everything should be clearer in a few hours.