Posted by: motorvationsaab | March 20, 2012

Victor Muller talks about Saab and life after the Saab bankruptcy

 Victor Muller

 

The Swedish Newspaper TTELA published this article today 20th March 2012.

The article has been translated from Swedish text so please forgive any grammatical errors .

Today, three months after Saab’s bankruptcy, Victor Muller appears for the first time in public at a conference in Stockholm. TTELA managed to get an exclusive interview with him about the life after Saab and the possibilities to engage in family life and the plans for Spyker.

Its cold at Arlanda Airport and Victor Muller pulls his scarf tight around his neck.
– There is really a major temperature difference between Sweden and Mallorca. Has it been this cold all the time?

When we get seated in the car which is heading in towards Stockholm and Grand Hotel, driven by Victors friend Lars Carlström in his new 9-5 – the conversation about his time after the bankruptcy starts.
– I have kept a low profile. I have made myself available for the bankruptcy administrators, but they and the interested parties have not ad any contact with me for a while now. I believe it will change if and when an interested party will materialize.

He admits that it is a very tough situation for anyone who wants to restart the company in Trollhättan. Do you see any similarities in the situation now and when you took over after GM?
– No, there is a lot of difference. Today its is a completely different situation. The brand SAAB was injured after GM started the liquidation of the company, but it’s still far from where it is now.
– These three months have not been good for the brand. Partly because all the dealers are gone, partly because it is now a fact that hundreds of employees have moved on to other companies.

And not the least, Muller points out, GM’s no is causing massive problems for anyone who wants to build up the brand Saab again.
– Our friends in Detroit have made it terrible clear to everyone that they will never approve any candidates. They have done it in a public and aggressive way.

– I can not tell you why GM has this attitude: if it depends on what they are bound by with their chinese partners or if it can depend on the partnership with Peugeot or something else. But this will be made clear in due time.

The company he was advising, Brightwell, bailed out of the deal after having made fruitless attempts to reason with GM.
– It was sad, Brightwell really had a good possibility. But for an investment company like Brightwell to succeed it needs to have access to the Saab-models. Not the least the 9-4X which holds great value and a strong potential. For a car-company like Mahindra it is possible to incorporate the technology and brand into their own structure.

Victor Muller estimates that it will take a long time if anyone wants to start up production in the factory again, based on Phoenix-technology.
– In best case, it will take 18 months, more likely two years.

But Victor Muller emphasizes at the same time that he is now involved in other projects. Just recently he visited the auto-salon in Geneva.
– It was sad, neither Saab nor Spyker was there. But I was very efficient and had 20 meetings and none of them were with journalists.
– Next year, Spyker will be at the show, he said with a firm voice.

So far he has arranged for temporary funding from the American GEM fund and funding to restart the luxury brand which he is “father” to is now ready.
– With Saab I had to invest five million euro per week, just to keep the place going. To organize funding for Spyker I need two weeks of Saab-funding.

He describes the situation and his life now as much easier than last year.
– Now that I am in talks with a partner, it leads somewhere, but during my time at Saab I could go to China and come back empty handed.
– This feels like a vacation.

Even his private life is much easier now:
– Even if I was at home physically during my time at Saab, I was not there mentally. I was busy on the phone all the time. Now I can be present.

And he has landed on both his feet again, he said. Even though he lost a lot of money on the bankruptcy.
– I invested 13 million Euro’s into Saab and had another 100 million Euro behind me from my financiers.

One person who funded Saab was as everyone knows Vladimir Antonov.
– He is innocent to what he is accused for. He became a factor of power, especially with the Lithuanian government is out to get him. He should not have become an owner of newspapers, especially ones that are critical of the government. But time will show how that will play out. It would be a golden opportunity for an investigative journalist to get into that. There were a lot of people who got engaged in Antonov before, this should be a mission for them now.

We are entering the Stockholm-traffic now and are approaching the goal of our journey. TTELA asks him how it feels to speak in a public gathering in Sweden for the first time since the bankruptcy. The gathering is the Innovation 2012 Exhibition and one of the organizers are Svenska Dagbladet (newspaper).
– Public? Well, perhaps it is. I have been helped on the topic by Anna Petre, but I rarely stick to a script. If you stick to that, you loose the audience, more people should try try to speak directly to the listeners, he say as if it was obvious.

We start talking about the entrepreneur Steve Jobs, the former Apple-manager, which could catch the attention of his listeners while doing product launches in a way that could almost be seen as a religious gathering.
– I read his biography and laughed the whole time. He was cocky, but he was right the whole time. That is a place to learn about entrepreneurship and how to innovate.

We have reached our destination, outside Grand Hotel. Victor Muller asks us to specifically greet all the people in Trollhättan and his former colleagues.
– It is them I really cared about. When I was walking in the city of Trollhättan people were always friendly and called to me by my first name “Victor”. I really felt we had a relationship.

The long, ex-Saab manager takes his luggage and passed through the doors to the hotel. A shorter, older man passes through the doors at the same time, but in the other direction. Also this man has a great experience in the Swedish Auto-industry and how unforgiving a situation can be when you are not able to succeed, that man is P.G Gyllenhammar.

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