Not a great way to make friends
Keith Crain is editor-in-chief of Automotive News.
It seemed as if Saab had found Chinese manufacturers willing to save the company from bankruptcy and disappearance.
But then General Motors had objections that threatened the deal. It seems that GM objected to continue supplying parts and technology to Saab if China's Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co. and Pang Da Automobile Trade Co. succeeded with the acquisition of the Swedish automaker.
The deal for Saab has to be approved by GM since the U.S. automaker still has preference shares in Saab and supplies Saab with crucial components.
It's a competitive issue. GM has a partner in China that increasingly demands more technology for Buicks and Chevrolets sold there.
Something is going on that I don't understand.
By not approving the deal, GM is more than willing to let Saab close, costing thousands of jobs in Sweden, while letting its own Chinese partner have more technology.
That's a bad way to make friends and influence people, particularly people in Sweden. If GM were responsible for the death of Saab and the loss of jobs in Saab's home market, GM could forget about selling cars in Northern Europe anytime soon.
I understand that this may be a cutthroat business. But GM should look at how Ford handled the situation when it sold its Swedish company, Volvo. That seemed like a very civilized transfer, and Ford acted gentlemanly the whole time. That might be something GM should study.
I'm not playing favorites. But if Saab is to die, it should happen in the marketplace, not in some corporate boardroom without even a fair hearing.
There are sales and purchases in the automobile world all the time. But I have never heard of a company withholding permission that could kill somebody else's deal and somebody else's product.
This business is tough and downright cruel at times, but no company wants the reputation of being a deal killer and putting people on the street.
Victor Muller gave it a real try.
He wasn't able to succeed on his own, but if Saab gets a new lease on life let's hope the new owners are able to save all those jobs in Sweden.
You can reach Keith Crain at email@example.com.