Volvo reportedly preparing for upcoming $20 billion IPO

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The owner of Volvo, China’s Geely Holding, is in advanced discussions with banks to list the automaker in the coming weeks, three sources told Reuters, in what is expected to be one of Europe’s biggest initial public offerings this year.

Volvo is aiming for a valuation of about $20 billion in the planned Stockholm listing, the sources said, with one saying the launch was penciled in for the end of September.

Goldman Sachs and SEB are leading the transaction, while other banks including BNP Paribas, Carnegie and HSBC are also involved in the deal, the sources added.

Volvo declined to comment. Geely did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment outside normal business hours in China. SEB and Goldman Sachs declined to comment. The other banks were not immediately available.

Geely, which bought Volvo from Ford more than a decade ago in the biggest acquisition by a Chinese firm of a foreign car maker, sought to float shares in the Swedish firm in 2018 but then pulled the deal citing trade tensions and a downturn in automotive stocks.

Traditional carmakers have fallen out of favor in recent years, as Tesla has risen to be one of the world’s most valuable companies, putting the focus on electric vehicles.

Geely chief Li Shufu holding a microphone and speaking
Geely founder Li Shufu bought Volvo for $1.8 billion more than a decade ago.
AFP via Getty Images

Many European firms have pivoted toward the electric sector, including Volvo which aims to only make fully electric cars by 2030 and owns a 49.5 percent stake in electric car maker Polestar.

Valuation

Gothenburg-based Volvo aims to secure a valuation of roughly $20 billion, one of the sources said, while another mentioned a possible range of $20 billion to $30 billion.

A third source suggested a $16 billion valuation was more realistic, citing the firm’s revenue outlook.

Closeup of Volvo logo on the front of a Volvo vehicle
Volvo’s IPO could take place as soon as the end of September, according to Reuters sources.
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A $20 billion valuation for Volvo would be equivalent to six to seven times its earnings, a level some analysts say is high although it would put it in line with rivals Daimler and BMW. Tesla’s valuation is more than 70 times.

NordLB’s automotive analyst Frank Schwope estimated a valuation range of $10 billion to $15 billion.

“The strong margins seen in the first half of 2021 are unlikely sustainable as the market benefited from a strong post-pandemic rebound that is unlikely to continue,” Schwope said.

For Geely founder Li Shufu, who bought Volvo for $1.8 billion, the listing is a milestone on the road to transport of the future, where cars are part of an electrified network of mobility services generating data and business opportunities.

A Volvo car on display
Shortages of materials needed to manufacture its vehicles could impact sales, Volvo warned. The forecast was made ahead of reports the company is eyeing an IPO in the coming weeks.
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A slew of startups have tapped into the investor frenzy for electric vehicles this year. Rivian, which rolled its first electric pickup truck off the production line this week, will seek a valuation of about $70 billion to $80 billion when it goes public at the end of this year, sources have told Reuters.

Nordea Chief Investment Officer John Hernander said the bank was interested in buying Volvo shares if a big enough chunk of the company was sold to keep liquidity high.

“That is key. We and many others have been really disappointed in the low liquidity in Traton,” he said, drawing parallels to the 2019 IPO of the truck unit, in which owner Volkswagen floated 11.5 percent of the shares.

Volvo warned this month that sales volumes in the second half of 2021 could fall year on year after it had been forced to cut production due to material shortages.

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