Gökhan Kurtaran-Istanbul-Hürriyet Daily News
Brightwell, a Turkish private investment company, is readying to bid for the acquisition of the recently bankrupt Swedish automobile company Saab, said the firm’s top executive. Saab plans to manufacture electric cars for the European and Middle Eastern markets, he added.
“We are in talks with a senior member of the board to acquire the company along with another Turkish firm,” said Zamier Ahmed, board member of Brightwell, speaking to Hürriyet Daily News in a phone interview. Saab is currently more than $1 billion in debt, but the automotive firm still has a successful future due to its well known brand name, he said.
Talks with General MotorsBrightwell is also in talks with previous owners General Motors, which still holds some technology licenses, to resolve issues relating to the infrastructure and production capacity of the firm.
Negotiations started long before the company filed for bankruptcy, after General Motors blocked takeover attempts by Chinese investors, Ahmed said. “The talks with chief executive Victor Muller were interrupted for some time, but we are now back at the negotiating table,” he added. “Contrary to popular belief in the Turkish public, we think the brand is worth investing in.”
Previously, Turkish Industry Minister Nihat Ergün said Turkish investors should be aware of “the iceberg under the water,” warning businesses about Saab’s possible hidden debts. Yet, despite a belief among some Turkish ministers that Saab’s potential was not very high, “with the right investment the company would be a successful Turkish brand,” Ahmet said. “If we could acquire the company, we can start manufacturing electric cars in approximately three months’ time.”
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan had also expressed concern over possible acquisitions in the past.
Ahmet said the intention of Brightwell was in line with Turkey’s plans to manufacture its own domestic automobile brand as announced by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan last year.