Having spent most of the last twenty years carefully building up a portfolio of Prestige European car makers, including Jaguar, Land Rover, Aston Martin and Volvo, the last of these, Volvo, has now been put up for sale by Ford.
This hardly comes as a surprise when you see the precarious state of Ford. It’s busy going cap-in-hand to the US government looking for a bail out, and selling off Volvo could add several hundred million pounds to its decimated balance sheet. Ford paid around £3billion for Volvo back in 1999, but more recently the company has slipped in to a loss making position, losing around £300 million in the last quarter.
Ford had been rumoured to be in talks with Volvo in Sweden (which still makes big trucks and buses, and co-owns the trademarks) but there was no interest. They have also been rumoured to be looking to the Swedish government for a bail-out, but that’s obviously not worked either.
It is of course possible that Ford won’t be able to find a buyer easily for Volvo. GM are also rumoured to be looking for someone to take on Saab, so I suppose if there are no buyers surfacing, the Swedish government will have to step in or face losing two of its biggest employers.
But this could, just could, be a bluff. Ford (and GM) look certain to get US state aid to keep going. And it could be that this is their way of showing the US Congress that any money paid out by the US taxpayer will stay in the US, and not be used to bail-out its overseas operations.
What’s the Chinese curse? “May you live in interesting times”. I think we are.