Corresponding with news that Ford and Geely are close to closing the Volvo deal, Volvo’s unions have expressed skepticism towards Geely, even going so far as to ask that the company be investigated. An ownership company based in tax havens, a history of trademark theft, and minimal transparancy have all worried unions within Volvo. Swedish Engineers at Volvo and the Metalworkers have expressed worries over the lack of information regarding Volvo’s future within Geely. “There’s a great information vacuum” says Magnus Sundemo of the Engineers. “We know very little about what the consequences will be if or when Geely takes over Volvo – We need to have more information, and we need reasonable time to examine the information” he continues.
There are several questions around Geely according to the union, one being the company structure. The company Ford has chosen as the preferred bidder, and possibly buyers of Volvo, is Zhejiang Geely Holding Group – a privately held Chinese Company, which in turn owns Proper Glory Holding (what a name!) registered in Virgin Islands (they must have some humor at Geely…). Proper Glory owns 51% of Geely Automotive Holdings Ltd, the car manufacturers. Geely Automotive is listed at the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, and has its HQ in the Cayman Islands. A further eight subsidiaries are registered in Cayman Islands, and seven more in The Virgin Islands.
“This in not something that enhances the image of a ‘nice’ company, and the question is where Volvo is positioned in this structure. An unlisted company in Cayman Islands needs no tranparancy, and no accountability. That worries” says Magnus Sundemo, who also complains about the lack of good information around the financing of the deal.
In a meeting between Volvos unions and Geely management last week, the unions demanded there’d be hired a special employee-consultant to examine the deal. He should be granted 200,000 euros and 5-6 weeks to be able to examine the deal properly. Volvo management granted 50.000 euros and 2-3 weeks.
Volvo’s Olle Axelson comments: “Volvo and Ford have already answered all questions asked. These are just repeated questions.” John Fleming, CO at Volvo says he understands Volvo employees’ concerns, but assures them that Ford has been a good parent to Volvo, and is certain that Geely will be too. “Otherwise, we wouldn’t have chosen them. – But nothing has been decided yet.”