* Geely may build as many as three Volvo plants in China
* Final plan needs approval of Volvo board and Beijing (Adds Li’s remarks on Volvo’s China plants, background)
BEIJING, Sept 14 (Reuters) - Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, which last month completed its purchase of Volvo from Ford Motor Co (F.N), may build as many as three plants in China to make the Swedish brand, a Geely spokesman said on Tuesday.
If it goes ahead as expected, the plan would give Zhejiang Geely a combined capacity to make 300,000 Volvo cars in China per year, Ning Shuyong told Reuters in a telephone interview.
Possible locations of the three Volvo plants are the Jiading district on the outskirts of Shanghai, the southwestern city of Chengdu, and the northeastern city of Daqing, said Ning, adding that the final plan still needed the approval of Volvo’s board and the Chinese government.
Li Shufu, chairman and founder of privately held Zhejiang Geely, also told reporters in Hong Kong he is in no hurry regarding the final decision for Volvo’s China plants.
“It takes time,” Li said when asked about the timetable for the plants. “It may take years.”
Zhejiang Geely, parent of Geely Automobile Holdings (0175.HK), completed its purchase of the Volvo car brand in August, marking China’s biggest ever overseas auto acquisition. [ID:nTOE67103B]
With the deal now completed, Geely faces the challenge of restoring Volvo to long-term profit. Volvo Cars earned revenue of $12.4 billion in 2009 by selling 334,000 cars, but it recorded a pre-tax loss of $653 million.
Major new investment is a critical part of Li’s plan to turn Volvo around, including new manufacturing facilities in China that would nearly double the Swedish carmaker’s capacity to take advantage of China’s vast auto market, industry observers said.
Reporting by Fang Yan and Ken Wills; additional reporting by Alison Leung in Hong Kong; Editing by Jacqueline Wong