Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., Ltd. today announced Li Shufu, its Chairman, will become Chairman of the Board at Volvo Car Corporation upon its acquisition of Volvo from Ford Motor Company.
Geely also named Hans-Olov Olsson as Vice-Chairman at Volvo Cars. Olsson is a former President and Chief Executive Officer of the Swedish automaker. Olsson was an adviser to Geely on the transaction.
How long the 68-year old Olsson will stay in the newly created position is unknown.
Nevertheless, the move is clearly an attempt to assure Swedish doubts about the sale, and ensure a smooth transition from Ford ownership when the deal closes during the third quarter of 2010. Ford will not retain any ownership in the new Chinese company.
“We have made significant progress in assembling the team that will develop Volvo Cars under Geely’s ownership. Today’s board appointments underline my personal commitment to this famous company,” Li Shufu said.
While the difference between U.S. cultural attitudes of Ford management and Swedish attitudes were significant, it is nowhere near as vast as the differences between the Chinese “middle kingdom” and “Konungariket Sverige.” Whether the Chinese can manage to make Volvo a growing and profitable global car company remains to be seen, and is the subject of great debates among industry observers.
For the moment, Volvo production in Gothenburg, Sweden and Ghent, Belgium is secure. It remains to be demonstrated that Geely can successfully build Volvo’s in China to Volvo’s quality and safety standards.