Is Volvo Really Up for Sale?

By: Glady Reign

Rumor has it that the Ford Motor Co. may let go of its Scandinavian brand - Volvo. After its announcement that Land Rover and Jaguar brands are up for sale, watchers in the industry expect that the next deal would involve Volvo Cars, also part of the Premier Automotive Group (PAG).

Reports about Volvo joining the PAG sell-off has sent flutters through the company's Australian operations. But Ford denies the sell-off. The Dearborn-based automaker recently sold its luxury automaker Aston Martin. Then it decided to include Land Rover and Jaguar to the potential sale list.

The sale is aimed at raising money to finance the turnaround of the automaker for it to return into the black soon. In overhauling its American brands, Ford needs a considerable sum to defray the expenses. In view of this, analysts in the industry said that Volvo is likely to be sold at $8 billion dollars.

"Officially, it's no comment because we haven't heard anything or received any instruction from Ford or Volvo," Volvo Australia spokesman Todd Hallenbeck says. "All we know is what has been floated in European media."

"The worrying thing about these reports, even if they are speculation, is that it doesn't do a lot for brand confidence," Hallenbeck says. "The disappointing aspect of the reports is that they come when Volvo internationally and in Australia is on an upward curve."

"The relationship between Volvo and Ford has always been very strong. It has always been a money earner for them... Ford has invested the money for us to develop the C30, the new C70, the S80. They have given us the real foothold to develop a new model range," Hallenbeck adds. "There is a lot of speculation and a lot of people are saying that Volvo may be the only brand (within PAG) that has a value... but it is all just speculation."

Hallenbeck points to global sales and a local operation that is fast. "We couldn't be more happy with the way things are going," Hallenbeck says. "To the end of June we were up 24 per cent on the previous year and that was up 37 per cent over '05. To last week we have sold more than 2900 cars, more than for the entire year in 2003. We have a lot of momentum, the dealers are incredibly happy and everybody is smiling."

One of the strong reasons behind Volvo's resurgence has been the renaissance of its lineup. The modifications were not limited to the enhancement of the design philosophy, styling and dynamics, as well as the upgrade of auto parts such as the , engine and more.

Ford, which sold Aston Martin for $450 million in 2006, has valued Volvo at 25 percent more than the $6.5 billion it paid in 1999, reported Cars Guide. The official line from Ford is that it is not in discussion with any companies regarding a sale of Volvo, but added that it is continuing to assess all of its options for the business, the report added.

Separately, Hyundai denies its alleged plan to acquire the Swedish brand. "We do not have any interest in buying Volvo or Jaguar or Land Rover," says Jake Jang, a spokesman for Hyundai.

Hyundai, which was named by the Sunday Times as a potential bidder for Volvo, said that it is too busy pursuing its own expansion plans. "Our hands are full now," Jang said. "We are in the process of building global manufacturing facilities from China to the United States and Europe." Hyundai had also denied a report in February that it was interested in buying Jaguar, Chron reports.

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