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来源:天星 更新日期:2009-09-26 点击:

China's Geely Leads Volvo Bidding

Chinese automaker Geely Holding Group Co. has emerged as the leading contender to acquire Swedish automaker Volvo from Ford Motor Co., said several people familiar with the matter.

Ford is in the process of analyzing a recent Geely bid to acquire 100% of Volvo for approximately $2.5 billion, these people said. The offer is higher than Ford or outsiders had expected for a brand that has lost more than $1 billion in recent years. In the quarter ended June 30, Volvo lost $231 million.

The deal may nonetheless be worth far less to Ford, given Geely's proposal to leave behind Volvo pension obligations, unwanted inventory and other substantial restructuring liabilities with Ford, said these people. Such a deal would be similar to Ford's sale of luxury brands Jaguar and Land Rover to India's Tata Motors Ltd. in early 2008. Tata paid $2.3 billion for the two brands. Ford then later contributed $600 million to Tata to cover Jaguar-Land Rover pension plans.

Geely and other Chinese firms want Volvo for its strong brand name and technology. Its dealer network also represents a chance to penetrate the U.S. and European markets with non-Volvo product. Geely has been especially emboldened of late, having just received a $245 million investment from Goldman Sachs Group's private-equity arm.

Geely couldn't be reached to comment late Thursday.

Volvo's technology is becoming a critical feature of the negotiations, say the people familiar with the matter. Volvo contributes collision warning systems, passenger-restraint technology and other safety equipment used by Ford and its other brands. Ford fears it could be handing over that technology to a company that is expected to become a direct competitor in Europe and North America. Ford officials continue to mull whether the technology 'could bleed all over the place,' said one person familiar with the negotiations.

Another sticking point has been a preference by Geely and other Chinese automakers to acquire only a portion of Volvo, while Ford has been adamant it wants to part with 100% of the unit. Originally Geely hoped that Ford would retain at least a 25% stake in Volvo, but Ford has declined to budge, according to a person briefed on the matter. The other remaining bidder is China's Shanghai Automotive Industry Corp., also known as SAIC Motor.

One challenge for Ford: Pulling Volvo out of its operations, having deeply integrated the two since Volvo's purchase for $6.4 billion in 1999.

Through August of this year, Volvo sold 42,013 vehicles in the U.S., long considered its most important market. That's down almost 25% percent from the same period in 2008. For all of 2008, Volvo sold 73,102 vehicles in the U.S.

Ford put Volvo on the block last December, with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. handling the sale. 'We expected this to be a pretty long process because of the environment we're working in,' Ford Chief Financial Officer Lewis Booth said in an interview this month. 'We haven't got an explicit timetable. We're still talking to interested parties. We're working through the options.'

Once Volvo is sold it will complete the dismantling of Ford's expensive and failed Premier Automotive Strategy.

据数位知情人士透露,在从福特汽车公司(Ford Motor Co.)手里收购瑞典汽车厂商沃尔沃(Volvo)的竞购者中,中国汽车生产商吉利控股集团脱颍而出,领先其他竞购者。


这些人士说,鉴于吉利提出要把沃尔沃的退休金责任、不想要的库存和其他相当多的重组责任留给福特,交易可能对福特远没有这么有价值。这样一桩交易与福特2008年初把豪华车品牌捷豹(Jaguar)和路虎(Land Rover)卖给印度塔塔汽车(Tata Motors Ltd.)的交易类似。塔塔为这两个品牌支付了23亿美元。福特之后向塔塔支付6亿美元用于捷豹和路虎的退休金计划。

沃尔沃的经销商网络也是用非沃尔沃产品打入欧美市场的一个机会。吉利最近从高盛集团(Goldman Sachs Group)旗下的私募股权子公司获得了2.45亿美元的投资后,胆量尤其大了起来。






福特去年12月份开始拍卖沃尔沃,摩根大通(J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.)负责处理相关事宜。福特首席财务长布斯(Lewis Booth)本月在接受采访时说,考虑到我们所处的环境,我们预计这将是一个很漫长的过程。我们尚未制定一个明确的时间表,仍在与意向方谈判,考虑各种选择。

一旦沃尔沃被卖掉,将为福特花费浩大、最终失败的高端汽车战略(Premier Automotive Strategy)的完结画上句号。