Victor Muller didn't only save a dying brand when he acquired Saab; he claims he picked up the world's biggest bargain.
When Spyker bought Saab in February for $74 million, the tiny Dutch company known for building low-volume, high-performance sports cars, got a company worth $1.1 billion — and got several vehicle programs to boot.
The new Saab Chairman said the move was “a no-brainer.”
With the help of the European Investment Bank and the Swedish government, the company has a loan of nearly $550 million to draw upon. Saab also has a state-of-the-art assembly plant and engineering center in Trollhattan, Sweden, including a crash laboratory, wind tunnel and climate chamber.
“I like to say that we paid for a wind tunnel and got a car company included,” said Muller, who is also Spyker CEO.
Muller, 51, inherited a legendary Swedish brand that got lost in General Motors Co.'s product portfolio. With Saab freed from GM, Muller promises to return the automaker to the good old days of devoted owners driving unique products.
The challenges are not easy. Saab needs to cut losses, break even as an independent automaker and build confidence in the brand — all while selling GM-developed projects for two more years.
Another key to Saab's global success is reducing its breakeven point.
Saab needs to sell more than 100,000 cars to hit that level. By 2012, it is Muller's goal to get the breakeven point down to 80,000 units.
That means that if Saab can sell 120,000 cars per year, “we will have a good return on the business,” Saab CEO Jan Ake Jonsson says.
Over the past decade, Saab has been near that level five or six times.
Muller hopes to make that happen again soon.
Says Muller: “We are very optimistic we will pull this one off.”