A small ray of hope for Saab, thanks to Brightwell

For months now, we’ve heard GM spokesman James Cain come out and say things like this:

TT: Why did you not agree to meet them?

– We stand by our policy not to sell technology licenses to a new owner for Saab.

TT: Not in any way?

– No.

TT: Typically in business, everything has a price tag.

– Not in this case, says James Cain.

So…… They stand by this policy and from earlier in the original article at e24, they responded to Brightwell’s requests for discussions with a big, fat “not interested”.

Not according to Brightwell’s President, Alphan Manas.

We have to rely on a Googletrans from Manas’ own blog here, but it sounds very much like they reached some agreement with GM in relation to the 9-4x before GM demanded a $73million “tooling fee”. This was apparently an unexpected development and it’s quite possible that tactics like this are part of the reason that Brightwell dropped out of the race to acquire Saab.

Of course, it’s not the first GM has done something like this, either. Back in December 2009, GM halted negotiations with Spyker – quite suddenly – and announced that Saab was to be liquidated. Later they backflipped once more and ended up selling the company.

What does all this mean?

Not a lot, really. The changing of terms in business deals is commonplace and GM are as prone to it as anyone else. The fact that a Saab fan might find it distasteful doesn’t alter the fact that it happens (nor that PR people would ‘forget’ such things in public statements).

Perhaps the ‘tooling fee’ is a blessing in disguise for a Saab fan. If I’ve interpreted what Manas has written on his website correctly (a significant “if”, but I think I have), it means that GM might actually be willing to negotiate with a possible purchaser of Saab Automobile under the right circumstances. I’m sure they’ll charge a massive fee for such access, but it’s a glimmer of hope if ever I saw one. The 9-4x deserves to be produced for longer, and as a Saab, too.

Again, I have to stress that I’m relying on a web translation of Manas’ blog. I tried to get in touch with Manas via Twitter last week but got no response. The translation is all I’ve got to go by at the moment. If you know Turkish perhaps you can clarify things a little for everyone.


Thanks to Gregg for the tip.

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  1. Asking for a tooling fee IS business. I was not much confident in BH’s purpous and willingness in Saab’s deal but this news about GM’s “offer” should definitly be considered as an opened door to some serious player.

  2. Good point. I wasn’t aware of the Brightwell ‘quirk’, but plenty of people negotiating are apt to insert new wrinkles from time to time. We celebrate when it’s Bob Sinclair insisting that if he has to take delivery of Saab 2-doors, then he will take them as convertibles. We hiss when GM plays hard ball or Maud says ‘No’.

  3. Dropping a $73 million demand into negotiations at the end like this is not a new “wrinkle,” it is a major change in terms. As I recall, Brightwell left the negotiations shaking its head wondering why GM would waste so much of their time when GM knew it would not agree to the terms being discussed.

    1. Greg: Goodness gracious, it was a general comment, one with even a flippant tone. It won’t stand up to your microscope, so please put it away.

  4. If you believe anything GM says with regard to the sale of all or just part of Saab, as the American saying goes, “I’ve got a bridge I’d like to sell you.” I’m not hanging crepe, by the way. I’d love to see Saab survive in some fashion. I’m just being realistic, knowing or believing that GM speaks with a forked tongue. (If only Bob Sinclair were still here to call it as he sees it and kick butt.)

  5. Concerning Saab, I think GM might try to give the image that it’s prepared to play ball, but when things get down to the nitty gritty, it’ll just make things too hard. Frankly I just think it wants Saab to disappear.

    Trying to recoup an extra $73 million on 9-4x sales would be an unenviable task for any buyer of Saab. I think the 9-4x had a quite narrow profit margin anyway? At one stage I thought GM needed the 9-4x to make it’s Cadillac sister more economical to produce. I guess it factored Saab out of the equation long ago?

  6. Interesting, might mean something but maybe not. How long is the latest GM CEO going to last?

    In American Politics no one in Government is going to argue for spending tax payor money on a Swedish Automobile Company. The US Government has to pay for GAO parties and Secret Service “entertainment”. Democratic President vs Republican President might make a difference. It’s all how you want to spend your money.

    Just a thought.

  7. Perhaps the GM demand is linked to some change in request from Brightwell? Things usually have a reciprocating factor. Not always but often.