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Ford: China's Geely preferred bidder for Volvo

Ford: China's Geely preferred bidder for Volvo

Ford Motor Co. has picked a consortium led by China's Geely Group as the preferred bidder to buy its Swedish Volvo Cars unit, the U.S. automaker said Wednesday.
Ford said the selection signals that it is conducting "more detailed and focused negotiations" with Zhejiang Geely Group Holding Co. Ltd. about the sale.
The announcement means that both sides have reached a fundamental agreement to sell the storied brand, but details such as price still must be worked out, according to a person briefed on the negotiations.
The person, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private, said Ford and Geely are "on the same page" about sharing key technology and other items, but no definitive sales agreement has been signed.
Ford, based in Dearborn, Michigan, acquired Volvo in 1999 for $6.45 billion from Volvo AB, and for 10 years the companies have shared safety and other technology. For instance, Ford's flagship family sedan, the Taurus, is based on Volvo underpinnings.
Any agreement would included details about sharing intellectual property rights and engineering, the person said.
Ford has wanted to unload Volvo since last year to raise cash and focus its efforts on three core brands: Ford, Lincoln and Mercury.
If the sale goes through, it would be another step in the U.S. auto industry's retrenchment from global operations, and another investment in them by a Chinese company.
Earlier this month, General Motors Co. sold its rugged Hummer brand to construction machinery maker Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery Corp. The sale awaits regulatory approval.
GM also has sold its Saab brand to a Swedish specialty automaker, and it is selling control of its European Opel unit to Canadian and Russian interests, although that deal is still in complex talks with European governments.
Last year, Ford sold its Jaguar-Land Rover brand to India's Tata Motors Ltd. for $1.7 billion. It took roughly three months from the date that Tata was announced as the preferred bidder for that deal to close.
Volvo Cars welcomed the Geely announcement, spokeswoman Maria Bohlin said. "It's positive that it has been confirmed that there's a preferred bidder," Bohlin said.
"Any prospective sale would have to ensure that Volvo has the resources, including the capital investment, necessary to further strengthen the business and build its global franchise, while enabling Ford to continue to focus on and implement our core ONE Ford strategy," Lewis Booth, Ford's executive vice president and chief financial officer, said in a statement.
Geely, based in Hangzhou, China, said last month that it was considering a bid for Volvo Cars with an unnamed investment partner.
Geely is one of China's leading domestic automakers, and was among several Chinese companies that have shown interest in Volvo and other European car companies. The Chinese are eager to improve their competitiveness by acquiring foreign brands that might help them improve their technology and expand into overseas markets.
The automaker said it has unspecified support from Chinese banks to fund the deal.
"Geely will immediately commence negotiations with Ford Co. on details of the acquisition to lay a good foundation for the independent operation of the famous Swedish brand Volvo after the acquisition," Geely said in a statement.
"Volvo's current factories, research center, trade union agreements and sales network will remain," the statement said, adding that Geely would expand Volvo's sales network and purchasing in China.
An independent management team would be formed, and the headquarters would remain in Goteborg, Sweden, the statement said.
"If the final agreement is reached, Geely will uphold and strengthen the traditional position of Volvo as a world brand, and will continue to promote the global reputation of the top brand in the field of safety and environmental technology," Geely Group board Chairman Li Shufu said.
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AP business writer Joe McDonald reported from Beijing for this story.


Updated : 2021-08-02 18:11 GMT+08:00