Scrappy Saab Sticks to Survival, Staves off Suppliers

By Blake Z. Rong | September 21, 2011
On this day in history, Swedish engineer Nils Bohlin passed away. Bohlin, who died in 2002, was the man behind the modern three-point safety belt. But he got the idea from working at Saab, designing ejector seats for its military airplanes. Saab is a company in need of an escape—from its creditors, from its suppliers, and from its financial woes. A year’s worth of losses and deferred paychecks has sent the company to the brink, and it has tried (unsuccessfully) to declare bankruptcy. But there’s a new lease on life for the perpetually dying Saab: on the day of Bohlin's death, a Swedish court accepted Saab’s appeal and awarded the company the protection it needed to defend itself against the creditors and suppliers it owes. Earlier this month, Saab had applied for bankruptcy protection, but it had been denied. Now that Saab has appealed the decision and won, the automaker hopes that the deal will allow it to survive until China authorizes an $334 million investment from two Chinese companies. A $96 million investment last week from one of the companies, Zhejiang Youngman, was the impetus Saab presented to the court for financial aid. Saab’s debt-collection agency has already started seizing its assets, and its labor unions are pressuring it to declare bankruptcy. Even so, this court’s decision gives Saab more precious time. And eventually, the company plans on building cars again. Imagine that—a car company with the financial solvency to build cars. Bohlin, even though he worked mostly for Volvo, would be proud. Source: Automotive News (Subscription required)