Former MAN chairman named new Volvo CEO

Volvo Cars board member Håkan Samuelsson, who previously served as chairman of German truckmaker MAN, has been named the new Volvo CEO, taking over from current head Stefan Jacoby who suffered a stroke in September.

Former MAN chairman named new Volvo CEO

“I see major opportunities for Volvo Cars to improve profitability, and accelerate our growth plan in China specifically. I am convinced that Håkan Samuelsson’s thorough experience and leadership will help us increase performance,” Li Shufu, majority shareholder and chair of the Volvo Board said in a statement.

Samuelsson has served as an independent member of the Volvo Car Group board since 2010.

Between 2005 and 2009, he served he served as chairman and CEO of MAN SE, a Munich-based heavy truck and engineering firm.

The 61-year-old Swede started his career at Swedish truckmaker Scania in 1977.

“My time on the Board has provided me with insight in the Volvo brand and the company,” Samuelsson said in a statement.

“No other business is as demanding, complex and full of challenges as the automotive industry. I look forward to leading Volvo Car Group in the most exciting period of its history.”

With Samulesson’s appointment, Jacoby, who became the CEO for Volvo Cars in August 2010, will leave Volvo “amicably” after having suffered a stroke in September this year.

In a statement issued shortly after he fell ill, Jacoby wrote that it was a minor stroke, which restricted mobility of his right arm and to some extent of his right leg. However, he was expected to be able to return to work after a month or so.

However, at the beginning of October there were rumours indicating that there were rifts within the company.

Reuters news agency reported on a rumoured conflict between Jacoby and board chairman Hans-Olov Olsson, citing anonymous sources.

However, Olsson denied the rumours in an interview with TT, saying that though there were of course discussions in the boardroom among the top layer of Volvo officials, there was no open conflict.

Speaking at a press conference in Stockholm on Friday at which his appointment was announced, Samulesson said that boosting sales in China was at the top of his agenda.

“Better sales in China, our new home market, is one my most important goals right now,” he said, according to the TT news agency.

“Better profitablity and cost control are the others.”

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Volvo stays in fast lane despite China dip

Swedish automaker Volvo Cars, owned by China's Geely, reported Wednesday a rise in first half profits even as sales tumbled in its biggest market, China.

Volvo stays in fast lane despite China dip
Volvo Cars' Swedish chief executive, Håkan Samuelsson. Photo: Bertil Ericson/TT

Note: An earlier version of this story said that first-half profits fell. While net profit attributable to shareholders indeed fell, overall net profits were up. The story has been amended to reflect this.

Net profit more than tripled to 877 million kronor (92 million euros, $56 million), while turnover climbed by 12 percent to 75.2 billion kronor.

Operating profit surged by more than 70 percent to 1.66 billion kronor, thanks to a strong US currency and robust sales of Volvo's SUV model XC60.

But net income attributable to owners of the parent company dropped by 60 percent to 173 million kronor (18 million euros, $20 million).

Volvo's overall car sales in terms of units rose by 1.4 percent to 232,284 during the first half.

The strongest sales growth was registered in Sweden and western Europe, while they remained stable in the United States and declined in China, by 1.2 percent, and the rest of the world, including Russia.

Volvo went through several dark years before returning to profit in 2013. In 2014, it beat its sales record from 2007, selling almost 466,000 vehicles. CEO Hakan Samuelsson told Swedish news agency TT the company expects to sell 500,000 cars this year.

The number of Volvo employees has risen by 10 percent in the past year, to 28,000 worldwide.

Despite its economic slowdown, Volvo plans to boost its presence in China and has acquired 50 percent of three joint ventures from parent company Geely: two assembly plants and one research and development centre.

Geely paid $1.8 billion to buy Volvo from US carmaker Ford in 2010.