Newly-retired CLEPA CEO, Lars Holmqvist, has delivered a stinging criticism of the Swedish government, maintaining it had been “callous” in letting bankrupt Saab go to the wall.
The authorities in Stockholm have endured a withering barrage of criticism from virtually every quarter following Saab’s demise last December, with many pointing to a ‘flight of competence’ out of the country and now the former European automotive supplier association CEO has weighed in with his comments.
Holmqvist – who retired only last week to be replaced by former PSA board member Jean-Marc Gales – gave his views as huge uncertainty continues to swirl around Saab. Meanwhile its receivers in Gothenburg are also still mulling various bids thought to include Chinese manufacturer, Youngman and Indian operation Mahindra & Mahindra, as well as a Chinese/Japanese consortium.
“In no other country, you would have had such a cool government as Sweden, no other country in Europe,” Holmqvist told just-auto. “If they wanted to, they could have done a lot more. The deal with Youngman could have been done and closed.
“They did not want to step in because they did not want to be held hostage. I can understand their point, but it is a little bit callous. There is unfair treatment to the Swedish automotive industry. In 2009, France, Italy, Germany, even the UK certainly gave some relief…but Sweden did not and it is the same now.”
Holmqvist – who is now to undertake a range of non-executive roles within the automotive sector – revealed he had lunch with Volvo CEO Stefan Jacoby last week at which the automaker chief revealed former Saab staff had jumped ship to Gothenburg.
“They [Volvo] have been offering good jobs to good people,” said Holmqvist. “I think they are looking for every good engineer. Volvo has the big advantage you can, if you want, commute [from Trollhattan].”