“A new chapter in industrial history is being written in Gothenburg,” the southwestern Swedish city where the $1.8-billion deal was announced Sunday, financial editorialist Patricia Hedelius wrote in the Dagens Nyheter daily.
The deal, which ends more than a decade of Volvo ownership by Ford Motor Co, “offers a preview of how the world economic map is being re-drawn,” she said.
The signing in Volvo’s headquarters marked the first large-scale Chinese purchase of a European high-end car brand, but “the sensational deal is likely just one in a long line of deals going forward in which Chinese companies buy Western” technology know-how, Hedelius said.
“We will probably see a broad onslaught and strong determination from Chinese companies hunting for assets outside of China,” she added.
Jacques Wallner, Dagens Nyheter’s car editor, agreed, calling Sunday’s deal “a first whiff announcing that new and storm-filled times await car makers in Europe, the US and Japan.”
With Geely’s purchase of an old European brand like Volvo, which was founded in 1926, China can boast “a Chinese car company with specialty technology,” he said, predicting that “in time, consumers in the West will come to accept that quality cars can come from China.”
While Wallner insisted it was useless feeling nostalgic for the good old days when Volvo was purely Swedish, he said he was nonetheless “saddened that a large Swedish car company has landed in the hands of the Chinese Communist dictatorship.”
“China has no tradition of unions, co-determination and respect for workers … it is a hierarchical society. Hopefully, Geely and China will learn more from Volvo than just the technology,” he said.
While the Swedish government, the unions and much of the public in and around Gothenburg, celebrated Geely’s vow to preserve Volvo factories in Sweden and Belgium, Nils-Olof Ollevik wrote in the Svenska Dagbladet daily that the joy was premature.
The deal, he pointed out, was being financed largely by the Chinese state and regional governments and banks, along with the European Investment Bank.
“No matter how good intentions were when the deal was signed yesterday, the conditions can change extremely quickly, especially for a company that gets its loans from banks controlled by a dictator regime,” he said.