THE enthusiastic chief exclusively rang Car Dealer late on Friday with 1 message for his dealer network.
‘It’s business as usual.’
‘We’re upbeat,’ Williams said. ‘We need to keep this in context, especially with the scale of problems in the economy as general.
‘As far as I’m concerned it is business as usual. Dealers have been calling me and asking what’s going on and I’ve told them there is nothing to worry about.’
SsangYong Motor filed for court receivership on Friday to avoid bankruptcy. Unlike in the UK, this is instead akin to Chapter 11 in the US where companies undergoing a restructuring and refinancing have to apply for the order.
Williams has written to his network to reassure them, and he actually believes the moves could be a POSITIVE thing.
‘One way or another SsangYong will be producing cars and we will be selling cars,’ he told us.
‘This move protects SsangYong and allows the brand to restructure. UK dealers should not worry – parts will still be available, warranties will still be in place.’
In Williams’ letter to dealers, the chief executive explained how many US airlines have come out of Chapter 11 protection to go on to trade successfully and profitably.
‘Indeed the domestic US car industry should arguably be operating under such a process currently given their general level of indebtedness,’ the letter said.
The move to place the smallest of Korea’s carmakers into receivership ends Shanghai Automotive’s four-year management control over the Korean carmaker.
SAIC’s 2004 purchase of a 51 per cent stake in Ssangyong was the first overseas buy-out by a Chinese carmaker.
Williams – formerly chief executive of KIA – and two other Koelliker UK directors will be travelling to Scotland in the next few weeks to talk to dealers there.
And in a final stinging blow, he swiped at the government’s recent VAT cut branding it ‘a complete waste of money’.
‘They should have cut income tax instead,’ said Williams. ‘That way you, me, everyone would have seen it directly in their pay packets. The VAT cut has been hardly noticeable anyway as everyone has slashed their prices anyway.
‘You won’t notice a 2.5 per cent reduction when prices have been cut by 50 per cent anyway!’
EXCLUSIVE by James Baggott