Saab Wars, Episode XVII: India’s Mahindra Wants In

Two decades of bad management and mediocre products under GM ownership, a bankruptcy in the hands of next owner Spyker and yet another one by NEVS, pretty sums up the long, sad story that is Saab.

Now, however, the Swedish brand has a chance to be rescued if the plans of a certain Indian billionaire come to fruition. Anand Mahindra is, according to a report from the Financial Times, is willing to buy a majority stake in the National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS), which currently owns Saab.

The Indian tycoon owns the country’s number one SUV maker, Mahindra & Mahindra, and was one of the interested parties when GM decided to sell Saab. He has also tried to buy Jaguar Land Rover in 2009, only to lose out to Tata Motors and then, after aborting a bid for Aston Martin, succeeded in buying Korean SUV-maker SsangYong the next year.

What Mahindra wants is to launch a premium SUV, because he believes there is lots of money to be made in this lucrative segment. In 2013, he told the Financial Times that “we need brands because the one thing you cannot build, if you want to grow globally at least, something that can take a lifetime, and we are in a hurry, is brands”.

He is also a believer in electric cars, something that explains his willingness to tie-up with NEVS. The thing is, a recent development may or may not play into his hands.

Today, December 11, the District Court of Vanesborg decided that the reorganization of NEVS gets a three-month extension, until March 2, 2015, despite the fact that Svea Ekonomi, one of its 19 creditors, wanted it to cease.
According to the court, there are good prospects for NEVS implementing a successful reconstruction of the automaker

“I am glad that the District Court has decided to prolong the reorganization”, said NEVS President Mattias Bergman. “We need the time the prolongation allows to concretize and finalize the ongoing negotiations.”

As if those issues weren’t enough, Saab has lost the right to use the name by the Swedish defense company that bears the same name. NEVS, though, is confident that it will eventually get back the right to use the brand.

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