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Saab searches for new global chief

Product revival: The long-awaited new-generation 9-5 flagship sedan will be launched in Australia next month.

Saab CEO Jan Ake Jonsson to step down as parent Spyker posts $298m 2010 net loss

28 Mar 2011

SAAB Automobile is searching for a new president and chief executive officer after Jan Ake Jonsson announced his retirement last week, effective from May 19.

Mr Jonsson played a key role in keeping the Swedish brand alive when General Motors was looking to offload the brand prior to its sale to Spyker Cars last year.

Saab has resumed trading in Australia and will launch its long-awaited new-generation 9-5 flagship sedan next month.

However, overseas reports indicate the company is struggling to achieve its global sales aspirations, which are forecast to reach 80,000 this year and 120,000 in 2012, when a redesigned 9-3 range is launched.

Saab sales rose 15 per cent to around 31,700 units last year, with 11,500 of these in the final quarter.

Last Friday, Spyker Cars NV, the holding company that owns both the Saab and Spyker brands, reported a 2010 net loss of €218 million ($A298m).

Spyker said it expected a net loss for 2011, before turning a profit in 2012.

 center imageLeft: Outgoing Saab CEO Jan Ake Jonsson. Below: Saab chairman and Spyker Cars chief executive Victor Muller.

Saab chairman and Spyker Cars chief executive Victor Muller will assume the role of Saab Automobile president and CEO until a successor is appointed, while Mr Jonsson will remain available to assist with the transition until September 1.

“I have been with Saab Automobile for almost my entire career of 40 years, of which almost six years as the head of Saab Automobile,” Mr Jonsson said.

“The last three years have, of course, been very demanding and forced me to focus on one thing only – my work. Now it is time for me to also spend some time on other things that had to stand back for my duties to Saab Automobile.

“We have already accomplished so many things that many thought were impossible and I am convinced that Saab Automobile is on the right track towards replacing the entire product portfolio by October 2012 – when the next generation 9-3 will be launched – as well as creating a standalone company with a financially sound business model.”

Mr Muller described Mr Jonsson as instrumental in Saab Automobile’s survival and in the transition of Saab into an independent car company.

“I am really sad to see him leave, but understand and respect his rationale,” said Mr Muller. “He has had one of the toughest jobs in Sweden in recent years and I am grateful that he has transferred his knowledge and experience to the managements of Saab Automobile and Spyker Cars.

“Jan Ake has led the efforts to create a platform from which Saab will become a strong and independent Swedish car manufacturer.”

In detailing Spyker’s 2010 financial results, Mr Muller said the company had made “significant progress” since it acquired the Saab business.

“We have forged important strategic relationships and established a Saab-controlled global sales organisation, laying the foundation for an independent and profitable global premium auto brand,” he said.

“The achievements in 2010 reflect the tremendous tenacity shown by all our employees and dealers in what has been an incredibly eventful year for Saab. Last year we started to crawl, this year we learn to walk and, as of next year, we will be up and running.”

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