* Talks still at early phase, Geely ‘taking its time’
* Financing consortium includes foreign banks
* Geely seeking path onto world stage (Adds chairman’s quotes; details)
By Fang Yan and Alison Leung
SHANGHAI, Oct 30 (Reuters) - China’s Geely is confident its bid for Ford Motor’s (F.N) Volvo car unit will be successful, chairman Li Shufu said on Friday, as it seeks to lead China’s automakers onto the global stage.
Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, the parent of Geely Automobile (0175.HK) was named by Ford Motor (F.N) as a preferred bidder for its loss-making Swedish unit Volvo Car Corp late on Wednesday. [ID:nHKG181412]
Li told Reuters on the sidelines of a business event in Shanghai that the talks were still at an early stage and were proceeding at a cautious pace.
“There are lots of details and we’re taking our time,” said Li, one of the 12 winners of Ernst & Young’s Entrepreneur of the Year China 2009 award.
“We will continue to work hard and bring Geely to every corner of the world,” Li said in accepting his award.
Geely, which means ‘auspicious’ in Chinese, is discussing the bid as head of a consortium whose financing would come from both domestic and foreign banks, Li said.
Ford and Geely have not disclosed a possible sale price for Volvo, but media reports suggested it could be closer to $2 billion than the $6.45 billion Ford paid for the Swedish car maker in 1999.
Even at the lower price, that would mark China’s biggest acquisition of foreign auto assets and could provide Geely with modern and innovative technologies for upgrading its cars to tap the affluent auto market in China.
“Good quality is the core of a brand and innovation and technologies are the wings,” he said at the ceremony.
For more on Geely’s Volvo bid, click [ID:nSP525061]
For a NEWSMAKER on Li, click [ID:nHKG42158]
Geely’s publicly traded unit, Geely Automobile has seen a more than four-fold jump this year alone on high hopes for the Volvo bid, along with a major investment by Goldman Sachs (GS.N).
The stock hit HK$3.04, the highest since the company was listed in 2004 after it bought a shell company, before closing down 3.1 percent at HK$2.84 on Friday.
Li said the effort to buy Volvo was aimed at promoting Geely’s strategic development as it looks to move beyond the Chinese market, now the world’s largest, onto the global stage.
“We are seeking our way out into the world,” he said.
A number of home-grown Chinese automakers, including Chery Automobile, are keen to break into foreign markets and are aggressively developing their own brands while moving beyond traditional offerings in the small, low-priced car segment into more upmarket vehicles.
Li also said the argument of intellectual property rights has been hurdle for Chinese car makers to export to Japan, United States and Europe.
“Very few Chinese auto makers have self-developed technologies and they learn from foreign companies, which is legal in China but not in the western world,” he said. (Editing by Doug Young and Lincoln Feast)