I think I've finally got quite the grasp on this whole Spyker and Saab situation, and on the intentions of Victor Muller. It was driving me a tad bonkers trying to nail it down, too. After all, I already had a one-on-one with Saab's former almost-savior Christian von Koenigsegg, only to have it announced soon after that the whole deal was off.
But with all due respect, I am very much gladdened that the new owner is Victor Muller with his cohorts versus von Koenigsegg and his. Muller is outspoken, a clever legal know-it-all, and endlessly blunt and enthusiastic, and this is exactly the ball of energy the Saab situation needs. He's also a confirmed Saab fanatic.
One thing both von Koenigsegg and Muller shared is that neither one wanted/wants to get rid of Saab CEO Jan-Åke Jonsson and his crew in Trollhättan. Jonsson was handcuffed for years by GM Europe and GM Detroit, neither of which understood what best to do to maximize the Saab legend. Now Saab is independent again and being run by the Dutch-Swedish Nordic brotherhood. Here's hoping that Muller's energy rubs off a bit on the sleepy Trollhättan management style.
ec: So, can you talk to us about the fallout now that the deal is sealed between you and GM to buy Saab?
VM: To be honest, there were probably ten times along the way where I was sure the deal was off, I was totally desperate and angry, and sometimes just completely pissed off. All I saw was Saab lying on the floor breathing its last and we were pounding its chest to keep it alive.
ec: Can you explain why it was all so hard to get done?
VM: It was clear that GM CEO Ed Whitacre, along with both Fritz Henderson and Rick Wagoner before him, not to mention GM Europe together with the German government and Sweden's own industry ministry, all were resigned to killing Saab. It was incredibly frustrating dealing with this wall of naysayers. Once the news broke that Koenigsegg's bid was dead, everyone was almost delighted that Saab was finished. When I heard the news, I talked with my partners and we resolved to make an offer. Bob Lutz is the only guy I know who responds immediately to every e-mail and text message. The guy seems wired like this at all times. I wrote him to suggest our intent to make an offer and his reply came on the same day.