Zeitgeist Magazine, for the story behind the news
Issue 5,
Volume 8,
25 June 301 AP

The Story behind the news.
Edition
Business
Savaj Netopik profit rating
Yet more good trading news


Politics
The non-election hots up
???


Law
Will this old man get any justice?

International Rovens, negotiations get tense
Dignania, Zartanian blockade ends

Sport
Football: Can ANYONE beat Luka?
Golf: Aretasuna's top form


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Jerman for "Spirit of the Age". In this case it is to mean the "spirit" of the Utanian people, the magazine reporting the people's thoughts behind the press-releases and reported news.

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©Zeitgeist Magazine, 301 AP.
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©Mike Ham, 2001. All rights reserved. No reproduction without, at least, tacit approval. ;-)
The most cheated man in Utania

Your Grandfather helped pioneer the motor car in Utania back in the 210s, a variant of your name is emblazoned on more than 70% of the vehicles in the country, and the company your family created now makes Û14 billion a year, but you own not a cent of it as you were cheated into selling. How ripped-off were you?

Meet Atosu Savante. 67 years old.

In 264, at the age of 30, he was heir to his father's truck-making company. It made some 10,000 trucks each year, and made the equivalent of about Û300 million in today's currency. But, his father's partners wanted more. They wanted the company, to offer more shares to the Tsar so as to get license to make even more trucks, and even sell them on the Island. The only way to do it was to remove the Utani influence in the company.

Atosu Savante sold his family's 25% share in the est. Û400 million company (today's money) for the princely sum of C13 million (264ap currency). That 25% share in the company would now be worth Û4 billion, and old Mr. Savante understandably wants recompense.

Savante is not a poor man, despite giving much of his "fortune" away in the 60s to today, he has still managed to retain about Û10 million, much of which he is using to mount the expensive challenge to the 264 contract of sale he signed. He is not seeking an even greater fortune for himself, but is thinking of his children, and of the thousands of Savaj children who do not know that the country's largest automobile manufacturer was formed by one of their own.

"It is about our history", he says, "Our heritage is being denied to us as a people, and we should know that the company our people work for is our own company."

A legal challenge
The legal challenge was submitted this week in Shecker's county court, but is likely to be deferred to the state's High Court, given the issues involved. It involves complex legal issues, and buries itself deep into the issues of Guwimithian rule that so dominated the businesses of this country.

One couldn't wholly own a business if you were Utani, and the higher the official in the Tsarist court that owned shares in your company, the better access to the Dependencies market, and even the lucrative Guwimith Island market for goods. Only the companies owned by the highest officials made the most money. Belson Corporation, that Û43 billion monolith was part-owned by the Tsar himself, and therefore guaranteed to make money, and have access -- afterall, who would stand in the way of the Tsar's own business interests?

So, charges Grandson Savante in the legal challenge, his father's 25% share in the company was a blockage to making the "real money" in Guwimith, a blockage to having a high-profile courtier owning a share in the company -- many Guwimithian nobles refused to have anything to do with a business part-owned by a dependencies "savage" -- and simply a nuisance that had to be removed. Using coercion and intimidation, the Ingallish and Guwimithian partners Savante-the-son had acquired, forced grandson Savante to sell his share to the partners, who then gifted it to the cousin to the Tsar. Not surprisingly, the company then made a fortune.

Now, after the dust has settled, and the Tsar and his merry courtiers are long gone from this country, the Utanian government is a 45% owner of the Savant Motors Corporation, a sum of shares inherited from the Guwimithian nobles who were themselves forced to surrender them when the UNV took control of the collapsed nation. The remaining 55% is owned by a mix of some of the original partners' and their descendants -- including Gordon Saltury, who strenuously denies the charges of his former partner -- and the general Utanian shareholder population.

It is now a Û16 billion company, selling 431,407 vehicles last year and earning a tidy Û1.9 billion profit. It now dominates the Utanian car market, selling almost 65% of all vehicles, and has grand plans to expand overseas. Already it owns an international car racing, ICARA, team costing it an estimated Û140 million a year, as part of the strategy to take on the world. A protracted legal battle it does not need.

A matter of fairness
Chairman Lewis Barton says the matter is one for the courts, but agrees that it is an issue "mired in the grossly unfair system of business under the Tsar." He says he has no plans to advise the government to settle, but will remind them that a protracted battle "can only damage the international reputation of the company".

For his part, 77 year old Gordon Saltury, a 9% owner of the company, and whose son, Benjamin, now takes his place on the Board of Directors, emphatically denies that the Savante family were "unfairly treated" or that they were cheated out of their share.

"It was a simple business transaction. Their husband and father had died, and they had no interest in the company, nor the financial means by which to continue to expand the business, in a time when it were desperately cash-strapped. The best way forward was to sell their share, and at the time, the 45 million Ruble price was perfectly reasonable."

Zeitgeist Magazine also tried to get comment from Attorney General Jurgen Hoff, whose department will represent the government in the case. Understandably, he could not comment on the specifics of the case, but did agree that "in general principle" such a situation was "extremely saddening".

"That the Utani people had to put up with this injustice for so long... is simply cruel. And it is a key policy of this government to undo those injustices, and right the wrongs of the past three hundred years." If that doesn't sound like a call to release the shareholding, this writer does not know what will convince the government.

What to do with a Û2 billion windfall
Perhaps what will help the government choose to hand over at least some of the shareholding Mr Savante demands will be this answer to the question of what will he do with the shares if he wins.

"I will give a few million pund to my children and their children, and to the Kohose Netaj community in the west of the country from which my family came", he says, having no particular desire to keep any for himself. "I am an old man. What need do I have for money?"

The balance, he says, he would like to gift to the Utani and Uta-Decashi workers in the company, a kind of cooperative shareholding.

"They have all been part of a magnificent effort, and worked like my grandfather did -- knuckles to the grind. They deserve, as Utani and non-Utani, to share in the wealth they have created."

There are some 80,000 workers in the Savant Motors corporation. Two billion pund would only work out to Û25,000 each, but it is more than they own in the company now.

Mr Savante says he would also like to provide a trust fund for the company for the education of the Utani people forevermore.

"I want scholarships for Utani children to learn engineering, just as my father and grandfather had done. I want them to know the skills and have the opportunity to set up their own Savant Motors. I want them to have cheap, small loans available, and I want them to dream of what is possible", he says, with a gleam of enthusiasm in his eye.

"But, most of all, I want them to know that it was not the Esreni (foreigners) that made this company, it was a motorcar enthusiast from the Savaj tribe, an Utani, one of their own. I want the trust to educate children across the country to know this. I want the dignity and mana (honour) restored to my father and grandfather."

A small request for such a mighty injustice.
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