* Stefan Jacoby ousted after months of flagging sales
* Former MAN SE chief Hakan Samuelsson takes over
* Needs to focus on Chinese market, profitability
By Patrick Lannin and Niklas Pollard
STOCKHOLM, Oct 19 Car maker Volvo has ditched
its chief executive for a former trucks boss who faces the
daunting task of turning around flagging sales and accelerating
a push into the home market of its Chinese owner.
Former MAN SE boss Hakan Samuelsson, a Swede,
replaces German Stefan Jacoby, who suffered a mild stroke last
month and whom sources say was at loggerheads with the effective
head of the board.
Volvo, bought from Ford Motor Co by Zhejiang Geely
Holding Group for $1.8 billion in 2010, aims to spend
about $11 billion to double total annual sales to 800,000 cars
by 2020 and boost sales in China to 200,000, from only 47,000
The target is an ambitious one. The business made a net loss
in the first half of 2012 and has faced tough European markets
and a slowing Chinese economy.
"We have to get the China growth plan back on track,"
Samuelsson told a news conference after his appointment, which
was decided at a board meeting on Thursday.
Samuelsson has been on the Volvo board since 2010, having
left MAN in 2009 after the company was accused of bribery in
connection with deals in Slovenia. German prosecutors last month
said that Samuelsson and another executive were being
investigated for aiding and abetting bribery. MAN, meanwhile, is
seeking millions of euros in damages from Samuelsson because of
Volvo is the biggest overseas car venture in China and is an
important investment, both for China and Sweden, where Volvo
still has a large production plant.
However, Jacoby said in a recent newspaper interview that
the company's 2015 goal for China sales would not be met.
Reuters sources have said that Jacoby and deputy chairman
Hans-Olov Olsson had clashed over a key appointment and
Olsson said that Jacoby's illness had nothing to do with the
decision to remove the German. Olsson, a Volvo veteran who is
Geely Chairman Li Shufu's key representative in Sweden, denied
that there was any personal conflict and said that Li supported
the decision to remove Jacoby.
"We want to succeed with Volvo," Olsson said at Friday's
news conference. "The board's responsibility is to take action.
The competition does not do us any favours."
Li said in a statement: "I see big possibilities for Volvo
Cars to improve profitability and increase the pace of growth,
not least in China."
Volvo aims to build two factories in China and has recently
shed part-time jobs in Sweden because of the downturn in demand.
It is halting production for a week this month.
Volvo has been in talks with the Chinese Development Bank
for a loan to help to finance its plans, which it is otherwise
supposed to fund from earnings. Olsson told Reuters that the
talks are continuing and he hopes for a decision before the end
of the year.
New CEO Samuelsson also made waves in Sweden in 2006, when
he led MAN in an acrimonious attempted takeover of rival truck
manufacturer Scania, where he had also served as an
The takeover failed, but Volkswagen, a shareholder in both,
later thrashed out a deal to buy most of Scania and aims to
forge closer ties between the two truck companies.
Jacoby suffered his stroke in mid-September, limiting
mobility in his right arm and leg. He has been on medical leave
since then, though Volvo had said he was making progress towards
a swift return to work.