Chinese VP to Stockholm for Geely-Volvo deal

Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping is due to arrive in Stockholm on Saturday for a four-day visit, reinforcing speculation that Chinese carmaker Geely might soon formalise its purchase of Swedish auto brand Volvo from American Ford Motor Company, state Xinhua news agency reported.

Xi is expected by many to replace Chinese President Hu Jintao by 2013, according to state Xinhua news agency.

The visit comes after the chairman of China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, Li Shufu, told the Wall Street Journal last week that he expected to complete the deal to acquire Volvo by the end of the month as planned. Geely reportedly secured the financing needed for the purchase earlier this month.

But there were still unspecified problems at Ford holding up the definitive accord, Li said.

Geely spokesman Yuan Xiaolin told AFP on Friday that the company had no update on the deal’s status.

Ford announced in December that it had agreed on the main terms of the sale of its loss-making Swedish subsidiary Volvo Cars to Geely, one of China’s largest private automakers, for a reported $2 billion.

If completed, the deal will bring to an end Ford’s decade-long association with the premium Swedish brand, known for its sturdy, family-friendly cars.

Ford had said it anticipated “a definitive sale agreement will be signed in the first quarter of 2010, subject to appropriate regulatory approvals”.

Volvo has 22,000 employees worldwide, including 16,000 in Sweden. The deal with Geely has raised fears among Swedish trade union leaders of cuts at the firm.

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