Further on the news that Stefan Jacoby is out at Volvo and that Hakan Samuelsson is in, the parties decided to forgo the face-saving explanation that the change was due to medical reasons. They confirmed that is was a boardroom brawl which Jacoby lost. In a press conference today, Volvo Vice-Chairman Hans-Olov Olsson said “that Jacoby’s illness had nothing to do with the decision to remove Jacoby,” Reuters says. Olsson also claimed that it wasn’t personal animosity between him and Jacoby. Which leaves only that Jacoby was sacked for underperforming.
The 70 year old Olssson is a Volvo veteran. He was reactivated by Geely Chairman Li Shufu as his representative on the board in Sweden. Li Shufu does not speak English, Olsson is his mouth and ears. Olsson and Jacoby quickly clashed.
“It’s just been a mess,” an ex-Volvo executive told Reuters. “Jacoby has not been able to run Volvo the way he wants to.” Volvo insiders suspect vis-a-vis Reuters that “friction with Olsson may have added to an unhealthy level of stress” for Jacoby, and indirectly blame Olsson for Jacoby’s mild stroke that left an arm and a leg impaired. With Li Shufu’s approval, Olsson ditched Jacoby and put fellow Swede Samuelson in charge.
Hakan Samuelson has been on the Volvo board since 2010, after he left MAN in 2009 in disgrace. MAN was involved in a large bribery scandal. German prosecutors last month said that Samuelsson is being investigated for aiding and abetting bribery. MAN is seeking millions of euros in damages from Samuelsson because of the scandal. Maybe he should move to China.
Volvo finds itself in troubled waters, both in Europe and in China. The EU market is a tough place for any automaker. Volvo’s EU sales are down 12.3 percent for the year and 17.4 percent in August. China suffers from overcapacity and is no longer desperately waiting for new car brands. In the U.S., Volvo’s sales are down slightly, a bad sign in an otherwise strong market.