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Geely rises to record high on Volvo progress

Posted by: Ian Rowley on October 29, 2009

Geely ge1.jpg

Even with confirmation from Ford that China’s Geely is the preferred buyer for the U.S. automaker’s Volvo marque, there are still concerns that the long-rumored deal won’t get off the ground. Bloomberg News reports that talks may yet fail as the two companies must still resolve protection for intellectual-property rights. Bloomberg notes that Beijing Auto couldn’t work out a deal to buy Opel earlier this year due to similar concerns.

For sure, Chinese automakers are renowned, if that is the right word, for the similarities between their cars and those of foreign rivals. Indeed, one of the highlights of the Shanghai auto show in April was the Geely GE (pictured above) which is, if nothing else, a first-class Rolls Royce Phantom imitation. The Geely GE is not yet on sale and perhaps shouldn’t be taken too seriously. Still, at the time, Rolls Royce said it was considering legal action.

Analysts, meanwhile, say that even if the Volvo deal is finally sealed, success isn’t guaranteed. While backers of overseas expansion reckon that such deals can help the Chinese automakers get footholds in European and U.S. markets, access to advanced technologies, and, in the case of brands like Volvo, a chance to piggyback on their reputations for sturdiness and safety, the record of Chinese automakers doesn’t offer too much encouragement. China watchers warn that making big deals work may be even tougher for its automakers, given the challenge of bridging the large cultural and legal differences between China and elsewhere.

For all that, there were signs today that many investors like the prospect of Geely paying a possible $2 billion for Volvo. Shares in Geely Automobile Holdings, which is listed in Hong Kong, rose 4.5% at one point, reaching a record high despite the market as a whole declining.

The latest gains - Geely’s stock has quadrupled this year - followed comments from Li Shufu, the carmaker’s founder and chairman of Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, the parent of Geely Automobile Holdings. “We are delighted with the progress of our discussions with Ford,” he said in a statement on Oct. 28. “This is an important strategic step for Geely.”

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Reader Comments

edward j.

October 29, 2009 06:58 AM

Tread with caution when you deal with someone shaking his money to your face. Get hooked and the Geely fella turns around smiling, "see i git ur gold and technologee".


October 29, 2009 09:03 AM

To Edward J.
Besides the racist overtones with your faux English with Chinese pronunciation, you fail to see that the only reason Geely is paying US £2B for Volvo is the brand-name AND technology. If Volvo was raking in the profits then Ford wouldn't have to sell it. What Ford is worried about is the technology that Ford may use in their models as Volvo is currently intimately involved with Ford.
The solution would be to separate the two design teams over time. Both Geely and Ford would have to decide at an early stage of which designers and teams are whose before the deal goes through.


October 29, 2009 03:34 PM

Any news or deals with China, Americans (even reporters) have immediately respond with prejudicism.
Even when reporting on Chinese Americans, they immediately linked anything Chinese with everything bad about China.
They failed in even telling differences btw Chinese and Korean or Japanese, or failed to notice that China has 1.2 billion people to feed, majority are very poor and food is a luxury, etc. They are not Americans, and don't live like Americans.


October 29, 2009 06:26 PM

if Geely buys Volvo as a majority owner it will strip down and set up mostly in China! both Ford and Sweden would lose much if that were to happen. welcome to a different future!

C. H. Ng

October 29, 2009 09:39 PM

I hate to read all these nonsenses.... on one hand the westerners want China to open up while at the same time their own economies are failing & need influx of $$$ to pull through. Then came the new rich buyer in the face of a Chinese & then it's not the sellers who are hesitating at such deals but their governments who only believe that the "knight in shining armour" who want to save their distress industries must not only riding a white horse, he has to be white too!
Since the Chinese can never be white & can never be accepted as their equal because the westerners are so used to their white supremist mentality, why should you bother to help? Let them rot or sell to the Japanese or Korean or better still the Muslim Arabs. You may have the money but they are forever suspicious of your intention & would never welcome you with open arms. So be it and stop going to their aids; instead let them come to you for help once they can't get any buyer & then you can save your millions by offering them a much lower price for their shit companies with the "take it or leave it" altitude.

C. H. Ng

October 30, 2009 01:26 AM

Further to my earlier comment, I would like to make another sarcastic remark to all ailing western companies:-

1) Since you are seemed to be like begging for financial aids, please remember your own English (western) saying "Beggars cannot be chosers", or

2) Since you are apprehensive about Chinese's aid/intention, just put up a sign which clearly stated "NO CHINESE (COMPANIES) ARE ALLOWED TO TAKE OVER OUR COMPANY"...full stop.

If you choose option (1), just remember your own saying. If option (2) is your choice, please don't ever talk about human rights, freedom of speech & talk about racist here anymore. It sucks.


October 30, 2009 05:31 AM

i wish we could get past this racial bs. the real question here is what will be best fot volvo cars. being part of ford was bad. being part of geely will be worse. it has nothing to do with race. before ford, volvo made some of the best cars. fords profit based priorities diluted the brand, the product suffered. geely will most likely do the same. lf volvo continues to be diluted by parent companies that produce inferior products they will lose all credibility. geely makes cars for a completely different market, thier inexperience could drive whats left of volvp over the edge.

volvo needs ownership closer to home. this will help ensure that volvos parent company will have the employees interest in mind while making the company economically viable again. i also wish volvo cars would be more influenced by volvo group . it was a lot of the truck manufacturers engineering philosophy that made volvo cars so special .

by the way, yes i own a volvo

sm tay

October 30, 2009 06:00 PM

if I were Geely, I would rather use the USD2Bil to investment in my own research and upgrade my own production capabilities. Volvo's technology is not really something fore-front in the automotive world today, nor is the brand name. It's just an old company that is failing. That's why there's no other buyers??

C. H. Ng

October 30, 2009 11:06 PM

"..being part of Ford is bad, being part of Geely will be worse & it has nothing to do with race"..oh my, oh my, Mr Mat. With that sentence you are not killing 2 birds with one stone but condemning a company w/o giving it a chance to prove itself.

No doubt Volvo is a famous brand, especially where safety is concerned. Ford has long past its golden era. Geely? At the moment even nothing near these two. But that doesn't warrant your condemnation as we need to view all 3 of them from a wider angle.

1) Volvo -- Good car no doubt but when compared to Honda Accord or Toyota Camry, lost out in term of look, price & resale value. No matter how good a car maker is, when you can't market your car properly, the sales figure is a clear cut sign.

2) Ford -- no need to comment as she needs a bailout to survive.

3) Geely -- new kid on the block as far as when the other 2 are concerned.
Maybe now a good copy-cat but if she can afford to pay 2 billion for Volvo, that shows she is doing well. Give her (and the other Chinese car makers as well) time, they will be most likely to follow the routes of those Japanese & Korean who initially produced sub-standard cars to world class cars.


October 31, 2009 09:20 AM

I think the Chinese should be learning from the Japanese or Korean. They didn't buy any superior western automotive companies and their brand names but instead they are building them from scratch.

Volvo is an old, boring and loss making car company that should be left to die. Geely should be spending their hard earned money buying technology from someone elses.


October 31, 2009 11:30 AM

I agree with both Sm Tay and Ali.
As costs are generally cheaper in China and the talent is there from the Chinese technical unis. and colleges, what is to stop Geely investing a fraction of the US $2B in (1) R&D by hiring material scientists, mechanical and structural engineers, electrical and electronic engineers, European car designers; (2) increased spending on market research such as understanding the mentality and requirements of overseas car purchasers as well as the legal issues for those overseas markets;
(3) upgrading their production lines.
The only reasons I can think of acquiring Hummer, Opel, Rover, Saab, Volvo, Hummer or any other discarded car maker is the short-circuiting of all the above to aquire brand recognition and the technology but it is an expensive high-risk way of doing so. If Ford couldn't make a go of luxury brands such as Jaguar or Volvo after investing heavily in those and others and with Tata having indigestion with Jaguar at the moment why would Geely think that it's "cheaper by the dozen" approach would work any better for Volvo? I think a money pit is in the offing for Geely.


October 31, 2009 08:41 PM

Actually there is another buyer for volvo, it is people that are already part of volvo. Jakob AB is a group led by volvo engineers and investors that wants to buy volvo. I also don't believe it is fair to call volvo "loss making". Yes the brand itself was in the red based on its own sales, but what about all the tecnology that went into other models. The Mazda 3 has the same platform as the Volvo s40, The current european model Ford Focus also has this platform and Volvos 5 cylinder turbo, and the current Taurus is based on the s80 to name a few. Its hard to quantify how much money was made with Volvo technology else where that would not have been otherwise. Volvo is losing money because ford mis managed Volvo, same as it did with it's other P.A.G brands that it has already sold. Fords inexpierience in this type of brand is a big factor, it will be more of the same with Geely. Chinese automotive products have a long way to go, they will get there someday but not trying to take a fast track by just buying a brand from a company in trouble. Or by trying to use it's name and reputation without knowing how to build a product deserving of such a reputation. Volvos are not for everyone, neither is a BMW or even a Honda. Volvo had a niche once before (for decades) and can find it again, only if the right steps are taken. Go back to rear drive, go back to building 500k mile powertrains, and go back to having a unique scandinavian personality. Drive a 700 or 900 series Volvo turbo and compare it to any other car of it's era and you will see what I mean. They were special, and can still be. Just look at what BMW did with Mini.


November 1, 2009 11:49 PM

Western firms DO NOT hesitate to sell to CHINA due to racism or HWITE SUPREMACY. Need I remind posters that in the battle for Arcelor, India's Mittal was favored over white skinned Russian steel firm... simply because there was concern about Russian capitalism and ties to gangsters.. as opposed to more Western transparent bizness practices of Indian firms?
WHO prevented Tata from buying Jaguar/Land Rover?? Nobody, in fact the unions, sellers, and everyone thought Tata was a great owner. How about Tata Steel takeover of Corus.. any racism there???
No there are other, very legitimate reasons to deny China. Racism or white supremacy is not one of them.


November 2, 2009 12:17 PM

Rob, India has never been considered a threat or challenger because of its inability. On the other hand, China is too powerful to be ignored. That's why people started talking about G2. I agree with you it's not racism. It's "China Threat" that makes the west nervous.


November 2, 2009 09:12 PM

Geely management should read the the article below on how much Volvo might actually cost them:


November 18, 2009 10:44 PM

my family has been buying volvo cars since the 80's, ford selling volvo to china, my immediate thought is the prestige of volvo is gone. please save volvo cars sweden. and note i am oriental, theres something not kosher about this rumoured deal with china.

C. H. Ng

November 19, 2009 01:20 AM

To both Rob & Mark:-

You both are absolutely right in a sense.. the western countries are not worried about India coz they always consider her as not a threat as she is forever a "yes man" to all westerners whereas China and/or the Chinese are totally different story. They respect foreigners but will stood up & won't bow to them if challenged.
Look at the situations when US President Obama was there in China. He can demand or seek sort of compromises from his Chinese counterpart, Mr Hu, but did the latter bowed to his requests? The answer is "No" and I believe it's not becoz the Chinese want to show they are more powerful than the American but they just want to show the whole world they are no more the sick man of the east. It's like you are either with them or against them and for all I know for the younger generation of Chinese, they don't care a damn and think their country will come top (in term of economy) in the near future.

Meanwhile for all the Volvo supporters, I would like suggest you read the article by this Time journalist who wrote about "5 ways the US can learn from the Chinese". In a way I think the people at Volvo can also learn from there. I cannot deny the fact that Volvo is a good car & brand (though not the best) but when you are forced to sell part of your company, something must be wrong somewhere.


November 21, 2009 08:47 AM

Volvo cars are safe, but so are Hyundai, KIA, Subaru, Ford, and etc.

5 star ratings in crash tests are now very common. There are no high tech secrets required to pass this requirement. Commercially available general purpose engineering analysis tools such as Abaqus can accurately simulate vehicle dynamics (including crash tests) on the PC demonstrating exceptionally good correlation with actual test results.

Geely is wasting money on Volvo. They should invest money in real technology and young Chinese engineers instead wasting money buying a foreign brand name that comes with all kinds of baggage.

B P the automotive purist

November 21, 2009 08:37 PM

After reading all of these posts, I found myself thinking of one crucial point forgotten in todays car market.


The bottom line for me is should a Chinese Co. buy Volvo, absolutely NOT! Just as Ford Motor Co. should never have been allowed!!
This is NOT said out of any type of prejudice, except for saving the character of a great marque!

I'm a car lover in my 40's and I have been lucky enough to drive and own many cars. For those of you alike, you understand the importance of my views.

My first Volvo was a 1976 264 GL, it was unique with an unmistakable feel,or personality. I've had many others since, and my last real Volvo was a 1993 940 turbo. The S 80 is nice, but does not have a true Volvo feel! Just as Ford changed Volvo, GM ruined SAAB!! My 99's, and 900's were SAABs. MY 900NG, and SAAB 9-5, are torque-steering, transverse engine mounted, junk!!
The beauty of foreign cars compared to American cars was exactly the fact, that they were different!
Japanese cars had their own flavor, Germain cars had their distinct feel, and Swedish cars(while the two very different) had their very own culture!!!
At least one time in my life I could drive cars that were diverse, and individual, and not rebadged clones!
So back to my first opinion, SAAB and VOLVO should stay Swedish!
Embrace their culture, their way of thinking, and truely become "worldly". Some tradition should be kept and respected. Afterall, shouldn't we as a society be understanding and accepting of our cultural differences globally. If it is "politically incorrect" to be disrespectful or critical of different religions, or cultures, why is it acceptable to decimate this important culture.
Let the Chinese design and produce their own product. If I like it, I'll buy one. That's the way it should be; your car your culture.
Afterall, I don't go to a Chinese restaurant for Italian food!


November 22, 2009 01:50 PM

Sweden is not a poor country. If the socialist Swedish government thought Volvo or Saab worth saving they would have found ways and the money like the Italian government did for Fiat. The Swedes know better. The fact is that there are too many car companies for the developed world and that new players like the Koreans, Malaysians and later the Chinese and Indian car companies will all be competing for markets worldwide.


January 20, 2010 01:22 PM

It should be an interesting melding of cultures. I sell Volvo's and find the opinions here intersting. Good Point regarding Mazda and Ford vehicle improvement in their Mazda 3, Taurus, Focus and Fusion....Volvo has contributed a tremendous change to the engineering of the Ford product and that is obvious in the #'s of some of their more recent product. @CHIEF if 5 test crash ratings were so plentiful...perhaps you could show me on any of those manufactureres website their "Hyundai, KIA, Subaru, Ford-- Sved My Life" Testimony from their owners...if not available...I can direct you to Volvo's website...or feel fre to ask a Volvo owner! I can function jsut fine within the walls of my office...but does that mean I am prepared for the elements outside? No and Volvo engineers for the real world. Ford's biggest problem with Volvo has been lack of advertising...previous posters are correct.....Volvo needs to return to their niche and shout it loudly from every mountain top...Ford brought design...Volvo does safety and we have a great product now...if you haven;t been in a Volvo 900 owners...stop by your local Volvo dealer today. Lastly to our Chinese friends...Westerners are suspicious because you make a cheap product and goods...your wealth has been built on making a cheap product for so much less money that I can buy oyur product at a $1 store and people are making money on the other end..."what is wrong with that picture" Should you be able to purchase a product for $1 that includes materials, labor, shipping, stocking and retail sale and all hands that touch make money...for ONE U.S. DOLLAR???? The Chinese business model and reputation is one of cheating and decptiv practises...that is the fear..come on..who yu make knock offs and we buy them by the bucketful...I suppose @ C.H. NG...what Americans and Westerners need to say NO to Chinese product...really..we need your money...or do you need us to continue to feed that vein...becuse if we stop buying chinese...what happens to you????

C. H. Ng

January 20, 2010 09:37 PM


1) First of all I am a Chinese but not from mainland China.

2) You may be right with some of your points raised here & I quite agreed with you there were (and still are) many issues of cheating in business deals going on in that country. But you forgot something...nobody or no country can ever be successful based on CHEATING alone! Becoz you can only cheat once or twice or a few more times BUT not forever. For China to be at what she is now, is it all based on cheatings?? Please don't tell me we are so dumb as that we can be cheated by her people ALL THE TIMES??
NB: For your infor, in my line of work as a procurement manager, I did make a number of orders from China for mat'ls such as alum foils & steel pipes & so far there were NO complaints about their quality.

3) 30 years ago when China first opened out the country, she started as one cheap source of manufacturing arm for many multi national companies to divert their operations from their own countries to there. Why is that so many of these companies started investing there? Cheap operating costs = higher profits = greeds. When the outsourcers or buyers start demanding cheaper prices or the manufacturers start wanting to make higher profit, the easiest way is to compromise on the quality. As I used to coin these words..."cheap things not good; good things not cheap", it is the matter of WHAT we the consumers want. If you want USD1.00 thing, you will get less than USD1.00 worth of quality. Simple as that....!

4) Nonetheless if your country cannot produce a product for a US dollar, it doesn't mean China or any other country can't. And I believe they don't have to use unscrupulous means all the times.
Therefore you can have your suspicion but that doesn't give you the right to simply accuse!

5) Lastly if the west stop buying from the Chinese (or vice-versa), nothing will happen to them or me or you or the westerners. Life might be a bit more difficult but all of us will still go on & on & on EXCEPT if it leads from a trade war to a REAL WAR.

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BusinessWeek’s team of Asia reporters brings you the latest insights on business, politics, technology and culture from some of the world’s biggest and fastest-growing economies. Eye on Asia’s bloggers include Asia regional editor Bruce Einhorn, Tokyo reporter Ian Rowley, Korea bureau chief Moon Ihlwan, Asia News Editor and China Bureau Chief. Dexter Roberts, and Hong Kong-based Asia correspondent Frederik Balfour.

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