by N. Peter Kramer
Will carmaker Volvo get a stock exchange listing in Stockholm, or may be in Amsterdam, as Bloomberg news agency claims? And will the Chinese electric brother Polestar become a US listed company? Rumours of an IPO of Volvo and Polestar flared up recently. It is clear that the Chinese owner Geely is looking at how he can best value the brands. The founder and big boss of Geely, the incredibly rich Chinese Li Shufu (57), does not shy away from strange steps.
Shufu is currently ranked 26th among the richest Chinese wit a net worth of $17.6 billion and number 96 worldwide, according to Forbes. The Chinese has been able to build up these positions especially in recent years. Five years ago, he was worth a ‘meagre’ $ 1.7 billion, one tenth of what he owns now.
As a self-made man, he founded Geely in November 1986, the company had nothing to do with automotive at all. Shufu and his brainchild were looking for an important place in the Chinese households with electrical equipment: refrigerators for the Chinese kitchens.
Later, when Chinese traffic motorised at lightning speed, Geely brought mopeds and motorcycles to the market, but did not compete in the car market until 1997. However, today, it is competing with BYD for the number one position of the largest Chinese car manufacturer.
Shufu has never made it a secret that his market is not China but the world. And he coveted European cars! Once he said of Volvo: ‘Volvo is like a mysterious, beautiful woman. We look at her from afar in amazement, but do not dare to get too close to her’. In 2010, Shufu shocked the European car industry by acquiring the Swedish brand from Ford.
When Volvo turns out to function well under the Chinese wings of Geely, Shufu decides to get into Mercedes. With almost 10%, the Chinese is now the largest shareholder of Mercedes parent Daimler. Now he wants a place on the Daimler board.
Shufu purchased from British sports car manufacturer Lotus and successfully introduced the electric Polestar a year and a half ago. An IPO of Volvo and Polestar is very possible, Shufu looks for fresh money for his next steps.