Eyeing IPO, Volvo Cars to take full control of its Chinese business

Image from Volvo Group website

Volvo Cars has struck a deal to buy out parent company Zhejiang Geely Holding from their joint ventures in China, in a move that could make a potential initial public offering (IPO) for the Swedish automaker more attractive to investors.

Hangzhou-based Geely, which also owns a 9.7% stake in Daimler, said earlier this year it was considering options for Volvo, including an IPO and stock market listing. In February, Geely’s Hong Kong-listed unit Geely Automobile and Volvo Cars scrapped plans to merge.

Handelsbanken Capital Markets analyst Hampus Engellau said taking full control of the Chinese joint ventures could help smooth the way for a Volvo Cars IPO.

“The clearer the ownership structure is, and the clearer the stakeholders in the company look, the easier it gets for investors to consider what it is they are investing in,” he said.

Analysts expect other foreign automakers to strike similar deals in China, the world’s biggest car market, when the country’s requirement for auto manufacturing to be carried out with a local joint venture partner is lifted next year.

Such rules for electric carmakers have already been lifted, allowing Tesla Inc to make and sell vehicles via fully-owned operations in China. Volkswagen has gained control of an electric car unit in the eastern city of Hefei.

Volvo Cars’ deal, financial terms for which were not disclosed, will give it full ownership of its manufacturing plants in Chengdu and Daqing, its Chinese sales company and its research and development facility in Shanghai.

Volvo Cars sold over 166,000 vehicles in China last year, and its dealers are offering heavy discounts to compete with other premium brands like BMW and Audi.

The Gothenburg-based company was bought by Geely from Ford in the aftermath of the global financial crisis more than a decade ago, and has since shared ownership of its Chinese plants with its parent.

Volvo Cars said the transactions, which are subject to regulatory approval, would be carried out in two steps, starting in 2022 and seen formally completed in 2023.

“These two transactions will create a clearer ownership structure within both Volvo Cars and Geely Holding,” Geely’s CEO Daniel Li said in a statement, which did not refer to the possible IPO.

Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson said in June the company was making progress towards a possible IPO later in 2021, and that while it would continue to share platforms and components with Geely, they would do so at “an arm’s length distance,” consistent with the way independent companies do business.

Reuters

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Singapore Reporter/s

In Singapore, we are looking to double our reporting team by this year-end to comprehensively cover the fast-moving world of funded startups and VC, PE & M&A deals. We want reporters who can tell our readers what is really happening in these sectors and why it matters to markets, companies and consumers. The ability to write precisely and urgently is crucial for these roles. Ideal candidates must have to ability to work in a collaborative, dynamic, and fast-changing environment. We want our new hires to be digitally savvy and ready to experiment with new forms of storytelling. Most importantly, we are looking for hard-hitting reporters who work well in a team. Collaboration and collegiality are a must.

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).

Following vacancies can be applied for (only in Singapore).   

  • A reporter to track companies/startups that have raised private capital, and have the potential to become unicorns. SEA currently has over 40 companies with a valuation of over $100 million and under $1 billion.
  • A reporter who can get behind the scenes and reveal how funding rounds are put together, or why they’ve failed to materialise. She/he in this role will largely focus on long-format stories. 
  • A journalist to track special situations funds, distressed debt and private credit (from the PE angle) across Asia.