Swedish car maker Saab has been struggling for months to survive - in fact, ever since GM dumped them after the GM bankruptcy - and things are still shaky, but now there's a white knight investor to the rescue. Well, actually a Chinese knight, sort of.
Last week Chinese car company Pang Da agreed to buy a 24% stake in Saab. Now comes word that a Chinese auto builder, Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co., as signed a deal to buy a 29.9% stake in Saab. The result? Chinese ownership of control.
Is China taking over the world by simply buying it up, piece by piece?
It took $352 million, but the two Chinese companies appear to have taken Saab over and the only thing left is for the blessing of Chinese and Swedish bureaucrats. And they don't have much choice about it since without the Chinese money Saab's doors will very likely stay closed. Still, CEO's say it will take several months before it's a "done deal."
It's all a bit too much like that commercial making the rounds about the US debt that China has also bought up.
Not only are the Chinese buying companies, they're building them here too. In Spartanburg, SC, a Chinese company is opening up a factory on land that cost only 1/4 what it would for land in Shanghai and will power it with electricity that costs 4 cents per kilowatt hour compared to 14 cents in China - without the Chinese brownouts either.
Are they are buying up the rest of the world because the world is cheaper than China? Maybe.
It's all a twisted maze of tax credits, cheap resources vs costly resources, and a lot of politics. But for unemployed and underpaid workers in places like Spartanburg, it just means jobs.
Same thing in Corpus Christi, TX where the largest-ever Chinese built factory is about to open, one billion dollars later.
It seems that the most common reaction is that of a 47 year old who had been laid off before a Chinese company bought his American employer's facility. "Just because it's a Chinese owner, they don't really care," said Scott Henderson, "They're all happy to be working 40 hours a week."
The Chinese have bought or started up at least 50 companies in the US, according to CNNMoney.com recently.
And what does it all mean? Smarter people than us will have to figure that out. Why? Because all of us are just trying to make a living day to day. But you can be sure that someone else has their eye on the long range plan - we just don't know whose plan it really is.