Saab seeks to allay financial health fears

Swedish carmaker Saab and its Dutch owner Spyker took steps on Monday to reassure investors that the future is based on solid financial ground.

Saab seeks to allay financial health fears

Spyker head and Saab stand-in CEO Victor Muller described the current problems as “a small glitch.”

“Saab is not on the verge of collapse,” Muller told reporters at a presentation of new Saab models in the Stockholm suburb of Nacka, calling media reports about Saab’s financial problems “disproportionate.”

Saab — which Spyker rescued at the last minute in January 2010 by buying it from US auto giant General Motors — was forced to stop production three times last week as some suppliers halted deliveries over unpaid bills.

The production stops were only “a small glitch” said Muller, quoted by Dow Jones Newswires.

He also said he regretted setting out sales targets for Saab after purchasing the iconic brand for $400 million, saying it was now getting “hammered” by the press for not meeting its objectives.

Saab chief executive Jan-Åke Jonsson, who unexpectedly announced last

month he would be stepping down in May, meanwhile stressed he saw “the

situation improving shortly.”

Russian businessman Vladimir Antonov — a former Spyker shareholder who GM has prevented from taking a stake in Saab — put in a request to Sweden’s National Debt Office last week to invest in the carmaker.

The authority, which has a say in ownership changes because it guaranteed a European Investment Bank (EIB) loan to Saab, said it would give its answer in a few weeks.

Antonov has said he was ready to invest €50 million ($70 million) in Saab and wants to take a 30 percent stake in the company.

It also emerged on Monday that Victor Muller had increased his income from Spyker from 2.1 million kronor in 2009 to 5.4 million kronor in 2010 following the purchase of Saab, according to report in the Swedish business daily Dagens Industri.

Furthermore Muller received a bonus of around 4.5 million kronor and 120,000 shares, worth an additional 4.5 million kronor.

Over the same period that Muller’s remuneration more than doubled, Saab recorded losses of around 1.95 billion kronor.

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Volkswagen sacks CEO Müller after less than 3 years in job: report

Scandal-hit car giant Volkswagen said Tuesday it has sacked its chief executive Matthias Müller, German media report.

Volkswagen sacks CEO Müller after less than 3 years in job: report
Matthias Müller. Photo: DPA

“The Volkswagen group is considering further evolving the leadership structure, which could be connected with changes in the board… a change to the chief executive could be involved,” VW said in a statement.

Both Handelsblatt and Reuters report that Müller has been removed from his post.

Supervisory board chief Hans Dieter Poetsch had been “speaking with different members of the supervisory and executive boards” about moving or replacing some of them, the statement went on, adding that Müller “signalled he was open to play a part in the changes.”

Handelsblatt reported that Herbert Diess, head of the VW brand — one of the group's 12 makes of cars, trucks and motorbikes — was slated to take Müller's place.

Volkswagen did not respond immediately when contacted about the report.

Müller, a former chief executive of VW subsidiary Porsche, was brought in to replace Martin Winterkorn.

The longtime CEO quit after the firm admitted in 2015 to manipulating 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide to cheat regulatory emissions tests in a scandal that became known as “dieselgate.”

Müller has chivvied the mammoth carmaker into a massive restructuring, aiming to electrify many of its lines and slim down its massive operations over the coming decades.

But he himself has landed in prosecutors' sights over suspicions he may have known about the diesel cheating before it became public and failed in his duty to inform investors.

Last month, Müller said that chief executives of big companies deserved high pay because “one always has one foot in jail”.