NICK GIBBS

Why Victor Muller has painful memories of running Saab

Nick Gibbs is UK correspondent at Automotive News Europe.Nick Gibbs is UK correspondent at Automotive News Europe.
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Reports say that the Swedish government wants to question former Saab Chairman Victor Muller as part of an inquiry into suspected tax offenses at Saab. Muller defended payments he received from the automaker in a recent interview with me and talked about how he has moved on from painful memories of Saab.

The Dutch entrepreneur rejected criticisms that his 600,000 euro ($773,000) annual pay packet at Saab was too large. "For a company with 4,000 employees? For saving a company like that? I dunno," he told me at the Geneva auto show in March.

Investigators want to question Muller about the way he was paid the money. Swedish authorities are probing whether Muller avoided payment of payroll taxes and social contributions, reports say. Muller told the Saab fans Web site SaabsUnited today that he paid 236,000 euros in taxes demanded by Sweden.

In Geneva, Muller refuted suggestions that he had been paid too much by Saab. "We were a public company, scrutinized by auditors every year, every half year. It's complete nonsense," he said.

Asked whether he regretted anything about his time at Saab, Muller declined to comment, saying he's now completely focused on Spyker's future. He said: "It's simply too painful to look back. I had my mourning period and I'm moving on."

In Geneva, Spyker unveiled the V-6 powered B6 Venator Concept that Muller said will go on sale in late 2014 at about $125,000 (96,000 euros), making it Spyker's most affordable car.

To fund Spyker products, Muller signed a deal with former Saab suitor Zhejiang Youngman Passenger Car Group of China to invest 10 million euros ($12.9 million) in Spyker, along with a further 25 million euros to further develop and build the D8 SUV.

The Spyker B6 Venator Concept will go on sale in late 2014.

"The said 10 million euros have been received by Spyker and the formal closing is expected to take place in May 2013," Spyker said in a statement on its first-quarter results on April 29.

You can reach Nick Gibbs at ngibbs@crain.com.

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