You’ve got to give former Saab Chief Executive Officer Victor Mueller credit: he is always trying. At the helm of Spyker back in 2010, he led an ambitious purchase of Saab, a company many times larger than the one he operated. Spyker attempted to move forward and execute its business plan, but the problem was a lack of cash.
Needing to reach a point where new models started coming online, Saab burned through its reserves faster than Mueller and Co. had anticipated. To combat this, a set of deals were orchestrated. Whenever Saab was in a jam, Mueller found a way to generate some cash through partnership deals. The most promising was one with Youngman Automotive. Everything was in place, but General Motors put the kibosh on the deal.
All of the partnership deals involved Chinese companies, and GM didn’t want its intellectual property falling into the wrong hands. Licensing agreements gave GM veto power over any potential deals. A threat from GM prompted Youngman to walk away, pushing Saab into bankruptcy.
Now, Mueller is again in charge at Spyker, and it is launching a whopping $3 billion lawsuit against GM. The reason? What Spyker says is bad faith negotiating tactics and “tortious interference,” all with the aim of driving Saab into bankruptcy. GM had the right to stop any deals from going forward if its IP was in jeopardy, but Spyker says the deal with Youngman included a “firewall” around GM’s IP.
Instead, work would just be done on the Phoenix platform underpinning the next-generaiton 9-3. The lawsuit surrounds what Spyker alleges are false statements made by GM that caused the Chinese investors to walk away for fear of lawsuit. The $3 billion figure is calculated based on the projected valuation of Saab after the deal with Youngman was complete. In case you’re wondering how tiny Spyker will be able to handle an expensive lawsuit vis a vis GM, it has already been taker. Mueller has lined up an anonymous third party who will pony up the funds to see the lawsuit to completion. Obviously, this investor will share in the potential rewards. It might seem superfluous, but some analysts say that if what Spyker alleges is true, they have a strong case. Mueller has said he is as determined to see this case to completion as he was to see Saab saved. If so, look out GM.