Zagato and CPP from Vladimir Antonov have now started a joint venture called CPP Milan, which is a new business now managing Zagato operations. The deal was signed by Andrea Zagato and Brendan O’Toole, and has been described as a way of securing the “long-term independence” of Zagato.
The deal should provide the Milanese coachbuilder with some new opportunities and make it more competitive in the market. It will maintain its independence but will use CPP as its technical partner, with Andrea Zagato saying in a statement: “It was quite clear for several years that our creations were complementary with CPP’s manufacturing capabilities.”
The web is abuzz with unofficial news that CPP, or Coventry Prototype Panels, has bought Italian car design firm Zagato, recently famous for its Aston Martin V12 Zagato. CPP is owned by Vladimir Antonov, who originally expressed a desire to buy Saab, but then purchased the exotic car arm Spyker instead.
If the reports prove to be true, Antonov will be building quite a little niche company with CPP, Spyker, Bowler offroad racing and now Zagato design. The reports have obviously lead to our excitement getting away from us, and various theories of future models that we might see. Think Zagato design on a Spyker supercar and you’re with us.
Saab has sold a 30-percent stake to the Hawtai Motor Group Company Limited in a deal worth €150 million. Struggling to stay afloat, Saab has been looking for other investment sources and the Chinese group also provided an option for overseas interest outside the EU. The deal includes 120 million euros subscription for 24.6 million Saab shares and a 30-million euro convertible loan.
Approval from the European Investment Bank (EIB) and the Swedish Debt Office is pending, and approval from the Chinese end could take six to 12 months. The company plans that this financing will furnish some mid-term operational needs and will obviously give it access to the Chinese car market - where every car manufacturer wants to be right now.
It’s unclear what kind of operational or production procedures will be shared, but according to reports, Hawtai is keen to expand its production, up to about one million vehicles by 2015. There is no further news about the courting of Saab investment from Vladimir Antonov, but a few days ago offers from him were said to be under consideration, pending approval as well.
If it all pans out, Saab is planning a global tour to introduce everybody and while we’re tempted to say it sounds like an international picnic, the new investment will mark another new chapter in Saab’s recent turbulent history, and quite an ecletic company at that.
General Motors has given initial tentative approval for Russian investor Vladimir Antonov to become a shareholder in Saab, a move which has also been mirrored by approval from the Swedish debt office. According to reports, Saab can expect up to €30 million in financing from Antonov, who is looking like the one option at this stage to save the autocar maker.
GM still has some interest in Saab with redeemable preference shares, and is quoted as saying that the agreement: “requires certain specific actions to be taken by Saab which have not yet been completed, as well as certain formal consents, approvals and waivers which Saab has not yet obtained.”
The process could prove a long one, with agreements still requiring approval from the European Investment Bank (EIB), which leant huge amounts of money to Saab, secured by the Swedish government, not to mention past accusations of Antonov’s involvement in organised crime and money laundering, for which he had to withdraw as a Spyker investor in the past.
Russian banker Vladimir Antonov has said that Saab will likely miss its 2011 sales target of 80,000 units this year. Antonov helped fund Spyker’s purchase of the GM Saab brand, and will purchase the niche sports car production unit from Spyker this year through its British holding company, CPP Global Holdings. Antonov predicts that instead of the 80,000 target, Saab will sell between 60 and 65,000 units this year.
That’s still up from last year’s 31,696 units sold, but it might not make Saab profitable enough for parent company Spyker. On selling its luxury car business, Spyker has said it will concentrate on Saab operations instead. Antonov has ruffled a few feathers at Saab, as the company looks to stay positive and follow its new business plan.
Obviously new beginnings are not always rosy, but Saab has been maintaining an optimistic outlook for its future operations. Commenting on Antonov’s statements, Saab head of communication Eric Geers says: “I know that at Saab we are moving ahead, we are following the business plan. The sales target is not our prime target. Our prime target is to follow our business plan and deliver, within the financial parameters.”
In the meantime, Spyker CEO Victor Muller has dismissed the claims as nonense, but has declined comment on whether Saab will need added capital in the future. Other analysts have suggested that Saab needs new investors that will provide technical expertise and not just finance. More to come from this story in the future.