Tag Archives: Fritz Henderson

Saab History Year In Review – 2009

Posted on 31. Dec, 2009 by .

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Updated:

Saab History marks it’s third full year since its launch in the fall of 2006. This year was quite unlike any that Saab has had over its lifetime including the past twenty years under GM ownership.

I have decided that unlike previous years writing a review about the happenings about Saab History specifically, it seemed more appropriate and timely to cover Saab’s own history over the course of the year.

Below is a month-by-month summary I have provided which will be updated based on the events over the course of the next three days.

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January

At the first of the year we understood that GM was was strategically reviewing the Saab brand and gave Saab 3-months to find a buyer. If no buyer was found and a deal secured, GM would keep Saab running until December 31st, 2009, then wind the company down.

Following this news, speculation grew rapidly on what company could be the new buyer for Saab Automobile ranging from Fiat, TATA, BMW to Porsche, all stating that they are not interested in buying the company.

As dialogue rapidly continued about the sale of Saab, we heard from Saab and representatives from the Swedish Government attending the 2009 North American International Auto Show about the status of Saab. Saab Automobile’s own, Jan-Ake Jonsson stated “that in order for his company to be successful, it needed to become separated from GM. It was here where we learned about the “official talks” beginning with GM’s interest in selling Saab. This included everything from the company’s business plan to potential loans needed from the European Investment Bank in order for to become independent of GM.

In parallel, the 2010 Saab 9-3x and 9-4x official spy photos were released combined with those of the all new Saab 9-5 sedan. On the others side of the spectrum, GM was forced to sell the Pikes Peak heritage collection car.

At the end of this month, we learned that there was a significant date coming up of February 17th, which was the date that GM submitted their viability plan to the US Government.

February

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At the first of the month, Saab Automobile began to update their global marketing strategy as they continued to work hard to develop their sustainable business plan.
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GM Announces The Resignation Of GM President & CEO Fritz Henderson, Replaced By Edward E. Whitacre Jr.

Posted on 01. Dec, 2009 by .

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Photo Credit: Saab History

At the recent GM Press Conference, Edward E. Whitacre Jr. announced that he would replace President & CEO Fritz Henderson who has just resigned. There is no indication that Fritz Henderson or Edward Whitacre will continue to be part of the 13-member GM board at this time.

The Saab community in the United States will remember hearing from Fritz Henderson back at the 2007 Saab Owners Convention where he spoke to us at the GM Heritage Center for dinner that he was a Saab guy and even his Wife was a Saab enthusiast.

There was no other new Saab news at all other than the resignation announcement other than the confirmation of what we already saw in the press statement earlier.

* Confirms outreach from several interested parties for Saab, but would not indicate which ones or how many

* Confirmed, if no viable buyer comes, closure of Saab would pursued at end of December

Here is a good piece from the Washington Post followed by GM’s statement on the resignation of Fritz Henderson.

GM’s Henderson Steps Down as CEO

General Motors chief executive Fritz Henderson, who took over the troubled automaker during its government-backed bankruptcy after former chief executive Rick Wagoner resigned at the urging of the White House, has stepped down, the company announced this afternoon.

Henderson will be replaced on a temporary basis by GM chairman Ed Whitacre, who became chairman in June, famously saying, “I don’t know anything about cars.” Whitacre is the former chief executive of AT&T.

Interestingly, it was Whiteacre, not Henderson, who appeared in the most recent GM television commercials.

— Frank Ahrens

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GM Statement Attributed to To Chairman Ed Whitacre

At its monthly meeting in Detroit today, the General Motors Board of Directors accepted the resignation of Fritz Henderson as Director, President and CEO of the company.

Fritz has done a remarkable job in leading the company through an unprecedented period of challenge and change. While momentum has been building over the past several months, all involved agree that changes needed to be made. To this end, I have taken over the role of Chairman and CEO while an international search for a new president and CEO begins immediately. With these new duties, I will begin working in the Renaissance Center headquarters on a daily basis. The leadership team – many who are with me today – are united and committed to the task at hand.

I want to assure all of our employees, dealers, suppliers, union partners and most of all, our customers, that GM’s daily business operations will continue as normal. I remain more convinced than ever that our company is on the right path and that we will continue to be a leader in offering the worldwide buying public the highest quality, highest value cars and trucks. We now need to accelerate our progress toward that goal, which will also mean a return to profitability and repaying the American and Canadian tax payers as soon as possible.

In closing, I want to once again thank Fritz Henderson for his years of leadership and service to General Motors; we’re grateful for his many contributions. I look forward to working with the entire GM team as we now begin the next chapter of this great company.

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The Thirteen Members Of the GM Board

Posted on 01. Dec, 2009 by .

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Sweden’s Goteborg Posten have gone ahead and provided us information about GM’s 13-member board that are deciding the fate of Saab Automobile at this time.

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Daniel F Akerson, 60 years. Head of Carlyle. Director of American Express.

David Letterman Bond, 67 years. Chairman Ryanair. Like the Rolling Stones so much that they could play when he turned 60 seven years ago. Bill for the party stopped at around 50 million, 100 000 per invited guest.

Erroll B Davis Jr, 66 years. Universities in Georgia, a board member of BP.

Stephen J. Girsky, 47 years. Bilanalytiker. Has worked as an advisor to both former GM chief Rick Wagoner and cars together unions Ron Gettelfinger.

Fritz Henderson, 51 years. Became CEO of GM when Wagoner was fired.

E Neville Isdell, 65 years. Former CEO and Chairman of Coca-Cola.

Robert D. Krebs, 67 years. Former CEO and Chairman of Burlington Northern Santa Fe Corporation.

Kent Kres, 71 years. Former President of Northrop Grumman. Even the President of the label manufacturer Avery Dennison.

Philip A Laskawy, 68 years. Former (1994-2001) Chairman and CEO of Ernst & Young.

Kathryn V Marinello, 53 years. Chairman and CEO of Ceridian, a company that outsource HR services. Studied at Lund University.

Patricia F Russo, 56 years. Former head of Alcatel-Lucent.

Carol M Stephenson, 58 years. Administration Manager for the Richard Ivey School of Business, The University of Western Ontario. Canadian government representative on the GM board.

Edward E Whitacre Jr, 67 years. Chairman of GM. Former President of Scouts in the United States.

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Jan Ake Jonsson Speaks At Press Conference In Trollhättan

Posted on 26. Nov, 2009 by .

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Dagens Industri and Swedish Radio West are both reporting on a recent press conference at Trollhattan’s Innovatum Tuesday night where Saab Automobile’s Managing Director, Jan Ã…ke Jonsson criticized the Swedish government for doing too little too late for his company.

Here is the article below.
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Saturn Closing Down After Penske Deal Falls Apart

Posted on 01. Oct, 2009 by .

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It was just over a month ago when we learned that Saturn-Saab dealerships in Canada were to be closed for good by the end of the year, then we hear this today.

While it is not related to Saab, it kind of feels bad like a sister or something to Saab under GM’s wing that did not make it to it’s next home and died in transit. This is what is happening with Saturn as it will be officially over and the company will wind down between now and December 31st, 2009. The company effectively has three months, and that’s it and it’s over.

After 24 years since Saturn started in 1985, the company created quite a loyal following over the years and today, it marks the three months until its over. There were a number of great byproducts from this company for Saab, one notable was Joel Manby who, previously worked for Saturn who later led Saab as President from 1996 until 2000, doing his very best to carry over this culture to Saab in the United States.

It’s just really sad to see a company that began with the best intentions with some incredibly loyal customers close down like this. I vividly recall getting a chance to meet Saturn’s President, Jill Lajdziak last year and never forgot her quote “At Saturn, we start our relationship when a customer buys or leases a vehicle, unlike many other brands”.

Thank to Saturn for realizing that customer loyalty is something that should never be forgotten in any industry and many of us are sad to see you go.

Here is the official press release below from Penske Automotive as well as GM.

Penske Automotive Terminates Discussions with General Motors to Acquire Saturn

BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich., Sep 30, 2009 (BUSINESS WIRE) — Penske Automotive Group, Inc. (NYSE: PAG) an international automotive retailer, today announced that it has terminated its discussions with General Motors Company (“GM”) to acquire the Saturn brand, citing concerns directly related to the future supply of vehicles beyond the supply period it had negotiated with GM.

Since announcing its discussions with GM on June 5, 2009, the company has been in the due diligence process to determine the feasibility of developing an independent distribution model for Saturn-branded products and service parts in the United States, including the sourcing of vehicles from GM and other potential suppliers. The company had negotiated a definitive agreement with GM to source vehicles on a contract-manufactured basis for a period of time. After this period, the company would have been required to source vehicles from another third party under a similar contract-manufacturing agreement.

Penske Automotive Group negotiated the terms and conditions of an agreement with another manufacturer; however, that agreement was rejected by that manufacturer’s board of directors. Without that agreement, the company has determined that the risks and uncertainties related to the availability of future products prohibit the company from moving forward with this transaction.

General Motors Media Statement Attributed President & CEO Fritz Henderson

Today we learned that Penske Automotive Group (PAG) has decided to terminate discussions with General Motors to acquire Saturn. This is very disappointing news and comes after months of hard work by hundreds of dedicated employees and Saturn retailers who tried to make the new Saturn a reality. PAG’s announcement explained that their decision was not based on interactions with GM or Saturn retailers; rather it was because of the inability to source new products beyond what it had asked GM to build on contract.

As a result of PAG’s decision, we will be winding down the Saturn brand and dealership network, in accordance with the wind-down agreements that Saturn dealers recently signed with GM. Pursuant to the terms of those agreements, the wind down process will be determined and communicated shortly.

Saturn customers and owners will continue to be able to purchase and have their vehicles serviced at Saturn retailers during this process. Once the wind down is complete, Saturn owners will still be able to have their vehicles serviced at other GM dealerships. We will be communicating with our customers very soon to explain the next steps in this process.

Today’s disappointing news comes at a time when we’d hoped for a successful launch of the Saturn brand into a new chapter. We will be working closely with our dealers to ensure Saturn customers are cared for as we transition them to other GM dealers in the months ahead. I’d also like to thank every GM employee and Saturn retailer who worked so hard to try to make this new beginning happen for Saturn.

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General Motors Plans To Become Independent Of Itself

Posted on 07. Jul, 2009 by .

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General Motors, on the day of the news about their asset sale being approved by the New York City bankruptcy court, is one step closer to being independent of itself. It sounds like GM trying to mimic Saab Automobile once again, where Saab wanted to become independent of GM carving itself out of the brand portfolio. However, one can only be so independent with governments having a majority stake.

The “New GM” will be a 60.8%” majority ownership by the U.S. Treasury Department & 11.7% Canada & Ontario Governments, giving it an appropriate name of “Government Motors” for the time being with over 70 percent owned by North American governments.

On the other side of the spectrum, I find it almost comical that the remaining 10 percent of the “old GM” will be now given the name “Motors Liquidation Company”. It’s clear that this name for the “old GM” company has only one purpose and I guess that name was given to ensure that’s the case.

The part that I would like more details on is, how much of Saab Automobile is part of the “new GM”, all of it, or some of it?

Here’s hoping a breakdown chart comes out in the future describing in detail, what’s part of that “old GM”.

Here is their press release:

Approval marks another step toward the launch of an independent new GM

GM 363 Asset Sale Approved by U.S. Bankruptcy Court

NEW YORK – General Motors achieved another milestone in its reinvention last night when Judge Robert E. Gerber of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York approved the sale of substantially all of General Motors Corporation’s assets to NGMCO, Inc., an entity funded by the U.S. Department of the Treasury. In connection with the closing of the sale transaction, NGMCO, Inc. will change its name to General Motors Company and continue to operate under GM’s historic corporate and sub brands. The approval marks another step toward the launch of an independent new GM.

The new company will acquire GM’s strongest operations and will have a competitive operating cost structure, partly as a result of recent agreements with the United Auto Workers (UAW) and Canadian Auto Workers (CAW).

The new GM will have lower leverage and a stronger balance sheet, which when combined with a lower break-even point, will allow it to reduce its risk, operate profitably at much lower volume levels, and to reinvest in the business in the key areas of advanced technology and product development. GM’s subsidiaries outside the United States will be acquired by the new company and are expected to continue to operate without interruption.

The new GM will be headquartered in Detroit and will be led by Fritz Henderson as president and chief executive officer and Edward E. Whitacre, Jr. as chairman of the board of directors.

“A healthy domestic auto industry remains vital to the global economy and we deeply appreciate the support the U.S., Canadian and Ontario governments and taxpayers have given GM, and the sacrifices that have been made by so many. This has been an especially challenging period, and we’ve had to make very difficult decisions to address some of the issues that have plagued our business for decades. Now it’s our responsibility to fix this business and place the company on a clear path to success without delay,” said Henderson.

The new GM’s common stock will be owned by:

· U.S. Department of the Treasury: 60.8 percent

· UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust: 17.5 percent

· Canada and Ontario governments: 11.7 percent

· The old GM: 10 percent
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Bo Andersson, Saab Automobile’s Purchasing Chief Resigns

Posted on 12. Jun, 2009 by .

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Bo Andersson, Saab Automobile’s Purchasing Chief, employed by GM, but with Saab since 1987 has apparently resigned to “pursue other career opportunities according to Bloomberg.

Andersson was instrumental in Saab Automobile’s purchasing capabilities with suppliers earlier this past year when production stopped due to custom issues.

I am wondering why this resignation took place at this time, especially with the news as of late about a possible new buyer for Saab Automobile.

June 12 (Bloomberg) — General Motors Corp. said Bo Andersson, the automaker’s global purchasing chief, left immediately to pursue “other career opportunities.”

bo1.jpgA successor will be named soon, Detroit-based GM said today in a statement that didn’t elaborate on his plans. Andersson, 53, joined a predecessor company to GM’s Saab unit in 1987, and was GM’s group vice president for purchasing and supply chain.

Andersson is the first senior executive to leave since the biggest U.S. automaker filed for bankruptcy on June 1. He was a member of GM’s Automotive Strategy Board, which makes all crucial management decisions, and had overseen the global supply chain since 2001.

“They’re going to have some very big shoes to fill,” said John Henke Jr., president of supplier-research firm Planning Perspectives Inc. in Birmingham, Michigan. “He was a tough guy, but he knew his business and he knew what he had to do.”

Henke said Andersson was likely to return to the industry soon, because “he is too good and he loves the business.” Chief Executive Officer Fritz Henderson said Andersson made “tremendous contributions” to GM’s purchasing operations.

Andersson wasn’t available for an interview, a GM spokesman, Dan Flores, said today.
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While Saab Will Continue in the United States, The Term “Saab USA” Effectively No Longer Exists Under GM.

Posted on 22. May, 2009 by .

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Saab USA has been a term loosely used since Saab began operations in the United States back in 1956 as I mentioned in the history of the Saab HQ.

Since then the term has had many iterations, Saab Motors, Inc., Saab-Scania of America, Inc, Saab Cars USA, Inc. and Saab Automobile USA.

It’s important to indicate that the term “Saab USA” in a separate business entity sense, no longer represents a group of people solely responsible for taking care of Saab operations in the United States.

Gradually, under the GM umbrella, it has been moving into the GM fold since 1992, again in 2004, and finally in the spring of 2009 where it effectively disappeared into the abyss of “GM Premium brands”.

However, Saab will continue in the United States and with the new Saab just around the corner, I am hoping for a relaunch in the United States of a separate entity something to the effect of Saab Automobile North America, Inc.

Here is a piece from a Mr. Klaus Peter at GM, who is temporarily filling in for Jan-Willem Vester’s rather large shoes describing what “Saab USA” is today under existing GM ownership.

The Saab headquarters is in Sweden, the US branch is basically a marketing unit.

When it comes to engineering, purchasing, etc., in most cases there are no employees assigned to specific brands. Teams work on small, mid-size, full size etc. vehicles.

There are many people in GM working on Saab-related tasks in Marketing, Engineering, Design, Purchasing and so on. Most of these employees also handle responsibilties related to other GM brands. On the highest corporate level there is of course Fritz Henderson and his senior leadership team.

So basically, “Saab USA” is just a marketing unit and the only person in that unit is Steve Shannon, and even he doesn’t do it full-time as he works with Cadillac & Hummer as well. Hence, there are no longer any full-time employees working specifically on Saab related tasks and responsibilities.

Saab USA is for all intents and purposes just now a name, a third of one person’s responsibilities (ie. Steve Shannon) , a website front-end (www.saabusa.com), and 225 incredible dealerships continuing to fight the good fight.

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Production Concept