iBusiness, 2011, 3, 5-15
doi:10.4236/ib.2011.31002 Published Online March 2011 (http://www.SciRP.org/journal/ib)
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. iB
Strategic Analysis of Synergistic Effect on M&A of
Volvo Car Corporation by Geely Automobile
Xia Zhou, Xiuzhi Zhang
School of Economic and Management, Jiangxi University of Science and Technology, Ganzhou, C hina.
Email: wymemory@163.com,leos_zhang@163.com
Received September 24th, 2010; revised October 25th, 2010; accepted November 7th, 2010.
Strategic M&A is focused on the development of enterprises within the same industry or related industries and has mul-
tiple effects such as economies of scale, structural integration of upstream and downstream industry chain, powerful
alliances and complementary advantages. A major motivation of strategic M&A is the synergistic effect. In the upsurge
of M&A at home and abroad, failed to achieve the synergistic effect is one of the important reasons of a high failure
rate of M&A. This paper probes into the example of Geely Automobiles M&A of Swedish Volvo Car Corporation in
March 2010 from a strategic angle by analyzing the strategic decision-making, the competitive environment, the me-
chanism of action, the evaluation and the realization risks of the synergistic effect, thus to provide references for the
M&A practice of Chinese enterprises.
Keywords: St rategic Perspecti v e, M&A, Synergistic Effect
1. Introduction
Strategic M&A is a complex business involving great
risk. Huge losses are often due to the errors in strategic
decision-making. Understanding and evaluating the syn-
ergistic effect is very necessary for those companies
which want to grow up through strategic M&A, because
it is not only the basis to determine the feasibility of
M&A, but also the basis for the set of transaction price,
and to a extent, it determines the success or failure of
strategic M&A. At present, domestic M&A activities are
lack of the guidance of strategic thinking and the study of
domestic scholars on synergistic effect from a strategic
perspective are relatively less. In addition, M&A activi-
ties of companies have high risks, according to the for-
mula “M&A synergistic effect = acquisition premium +
the net present value of M&A”, even in the case of ze-
ro-premium, the companies still need to meet certain
necessary competitive conditions as well as the basic
requirements for synergistic effect, otherwise, the com-
panies will be hard to avoid falling into the “synergy
trap” [1,2]. Therefore, the main purpose of this paper is
to make an analyze on strategic decision, competitive
environment, mechanisms of action, the evaluation and
realization risks of the synergistic effect from a strategic
perspective, thus to provide references for Chinese com-
panies to better achieve strategic M&A synergies [3].
In recent years, China’s automobile industry is very
active in M&A, this paper take Zhejiang Geely Holding
Group’s (hereinafter to be referred as Geely) M&A of
Sweden’s Volvo Car Corporation(hereinafter to be re-
ferred as Volvo) for example to analyze M&A synergies
from a strategic perspective. Geely is a large-scale pri-
vate enterprise of China which mainly produces motor
vehicles and parts. Volvo was founded in 1927, which is
one of the world’s 20 largest automobile companies and
enjoys high prestige in ex cellent quality and p erformance
in northern Europe, especially known for its safety and
environmental protection. At present, Volvo has nine
series of automobile brands, three new intellectual prop-
erty platform and more than 2,000 sales outlets world-
wide. If Geely’s M&A of Volvo is successful, it will
have historic direct effect to promoting the growth of
China’s automobile industry and change the pattern of
future global automotive industry. Based on the above
favorable considerations, Geely acquired 100% equity
stake of Swedish Volvo in March 2010 successfully. This
paper is appropriately amended as needed based on the
original case.
2. Strategic Decision Analysis of Synergistic
M&A is a high-risk activity, great loss often springs from
Strategic Analysis of Synergistic Effect on M&A of Volvo Car Corporation by Geely Automobile
strategic decision mistakes, and therefore, the company’s
management must first clearly define the enterprise’s
development strategy and have to launch an investigation
into the acquired enterprise’s business and resources
[4-6]. In the development of M&A strategy, we can use
some appropriate models to support M&A decision such
as BCG Matrix, PIMS methods and Directional Policy
Matrix. The BCG matrix analysis of Geely’s strategic
M&A can be represented as shown in Figure 1.
As Volvo is one of the world’s 20 largest automobile
companies, it has a huge market capacity and a relatively
higher market increase rate. However, because of the
global financial crisis in 2008, Volvo had huge losses last
year due to poor management. In 2009, the total sales of
Volvo was only 218.4 billion SEK (1 U.S. dollar equals
7.5 SEK), compared with 2008, its total sales reduced by
nearly 30%, which caused Volvo a huge loss of 14.7 bil-
lion SEK. Thus for Geely, Volvo belongs to the “Ques-
tion marks” and can be indicated with solid line box in
Figure 1. At this time, there need to input a large number
of fixed capital and working capital. Geely should use
appropriate means of financing to obtain sufficient funds
to meet the growth of its market share. With regard to the
capital source of Geely’s M&A of Volvo and the subse-
quent provision of huge working capital, the M&A pur-
chase price of Volvo is 1.8 billion dollars, plus follow-up
liquid capital, Geely has prepared to provide a total of
2.7 billion dollars. Half of these funds were funded
through domestic financing, the rest of the funds were
foreign capital mainly coming from the United States,
Europe and Hong Kong.
If the demand for Volvo’s automobile continues to
grow, after Geely’s M&A, Geely’s production capacity
will increase substantially and new Volvo production
bases will be built at home. If Geely can be able to suc-
cessfully solve the market digestive problems which
caused by the excess production capacity, its relative
market share will be greatly improved and the product
will be gradually changed to the “Stars” and can be indi-
cated with dotted box in Figure 1. At this time, the prod-
Figure 1. BCG matrix analysis of Geely automobile’s stra-
tegic M&A.
uct may be advanced “absorber” or advanced “producer”,
which primarily depends on the amount of money needed
to invest to maintain the market share. If the product can
achieve a certain economies of scale, it will eventually
change to “Cash cows” and Geely must ensure that its
market share do not suffer erosion. Such strategic analy-
sis tools will be conducive to make a more reasonable
M&A decision for Geely.
3. Competitive Environment Analysis of
Synergistic Effe ct
According to Mark L Sirower’s (1997) theory, “Syner-
gistic effect” must be taken into account in the competi-
tive environment [7,8]. M&A must meet one of the fol-
lowing two points to achieve synergistic effect and ob-
tain M&A earnings. First, the acquirer must be able to
restrict the competitive threat of the current and po tential
competitors in the input market, the production process
or the output market; second, the acquirer must be able to
open up new markets or invade and occupy the market of
its competitors who can’t react. Thus, before the an alysis
of M&A synergies, we should first analyze the competi-
tive environment of Geely. Competitive environment
analysis of synergistic effect mainly includes two aspects:
the analysis of industry barriers to entry and the analysis
of competitive situation.
3.1. Analysis of the Industry Barriers to Entry
The industry barriers to entry can be analyzed from the
need for capital, operating scale, technological content
and cost disadvantages independent of scale, as shown in
Figure 2.
1) Fund demand.
As for cost competitiveness, Geely’s capacity planning
is unavoidable and its capital cost will be higher and
higher. As the automobile industry is capital-intensive
industry, its R&D and the construction of production
lines will face a high financial barrier. At present, Geely
expands its production capacity in a “great leap forward”
way, it has established production bases in Linhai, Zhe-
jiang, Ningbo, Shanghai, Lanzhou, Xiangtan, Jinan, etc.
According to Geely’s current base construction devel-
opment plan, by 2010, Geely’s production capacity
Figure 2. Analysis of automobile industry barriers to entry.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. iB
Strategic Analysis of Synergistic Effect on M&A of Volvo Car Corporation by Geely Automobile7
will break 1 million vehicles and b y 2015 reach 2 million .
Relevant data show that in addition to 1.8 billion dollars
of M&A, Geely also need 1.5 billion dollars of liquid
capital. The 1.8 billion dollars acquisition funds and the
huge capital loans will certainly exert financial pressure
on the operation of Geely.
2) Scale of operation.
Whether Geely can produce in large scale is a key
factor in the success of its production. Because the au-
tomobile’s R&D costs are very high an d there are appr o-
priate costs of management, procurement and sales, G eely
must produce in large scale, otherwise, the costs will be
difficult to be amortized. After Geely’s M&A of Volvo,
Geely will face numerous difficulties in product plann ing,
site selection, the split with Chang’an Ford’s products,
whether the fund flow is smooth and the variables in the
domestic market. These problems may lead to the failure
of the M&A in all probability. Geely’s self-confidence
seems to come from the infinite Chinese automobile mar-
ket. Volvo has top 20 largest independent automobile
parts suppliers, among them, 16 suppliers have set up
factories in China. Through additional supporting facto-
ries in China, Geely is expected to reduce procurement
costs at least 1.2 billio n dollars within 5 years. However,
to form a new plant, Geely need at least 1 and a half
years, this should be the most difficult transition period
after its M&A of Volvo. Shufu Li, the president of Geely,
who claimed that Volvo would be profitable in 2011
seems to be unbelievable.
3) Technological cont ent .
Volvo is “the most secure vehicles” in the eyes of
consumers. Through M&A of Volvo, Geely can absorb
Volvo’s patented technology and expertise to enhance its
technical strength and development capabilities, and at
the same time to obtain fat profits of brand premium
[9,10]. But the problem is that Geely’s desire to acquire
technology through M&A may not realize. First, in order
to protect their own interests, the host government, the
acquired companies and its trade unions representing the
interests of the parties may establish harsh restricted
conditions of technology transfer and will carry out strict
surveillance in the future; second, even if Geely obtain
Volvo’s technology at the best price successfully, this
can not substitute its self-absorption and subsequent de-
velopment. If Chinese companies can not form a suffi-
ciently strong international competitiveness in technol-
ogy development, Geely’s plan to improve R&D capac-
ity through M&A will likely come to nothing even tually.
In 2004, SAIC Group spend s 612 billion won (about 500
million dollars) in M&A of 51% equity stake of South
Korea’s fifth-largest car maker Ssangyong Motor. Af-
terwards, SAIC and Ssangyong union disputed many
times, South Korean prosecu tors also conducted a search
of Korean headquarters of SAIC in the name of “leak
core technology”. In the financial crisis, the continued
loss of Ssangyong finally dragged down SAIC, in Janu-
ary 2009, SAIC filed for bankruptcy protection in Seoul
District Court and give up the management of Ssangyong.
Therefore, whether Geely can achieve bigger break-
through on technology after M&A will be difficult to
4) Cost disadv antages independent of scal e.
According to the strategy theory of Michael Baud, the
acquired enterprises have cost advantages which were
formed by means of experience accumulation and learn-
ing curve. But Chinese automo tive industry operates by a
way of high-cost, and there are still some barriers in get-
ting the advanced experience. The factors of cost disad-
vantages independent of scale also include patent right,
government subsidies and price inflation of equipment
purchase which is caused by the changes in exchange
rates. Geely have had overseas experience in restructur-
ing and M&A of British Manganese Bronze company
and Australian DSI automatic transmission company,
however, this time Geely mergered 100% equity stake of
Volvo is a very huge project, including Volvo’s R&D
team, manufacture base, distribution channels, corporate
debt and the reallocating of nearly 20,000 employees,
this can not be compared with the previously M&A of
Manganese Bronze and DSI to Geely, who hasn’t any
experiences in manufacture and management of luxury
vehicles, the cost disadvantages independent of scale is
From the above analysis we can see that there are high
barriers to entry in automobile industry. Whether Geely
can resist the pressure of competition and open up new
markets depends on the strength of the industry’s major
competitors. This indicator can be measured by market
share. From January to May in 2010, the sales of Volvo
in China surged by 108% and led the luxury vehicles
market. China has become the world’s fourth largest
market for Volvo. Globally, from January to April in
2010, the sales of Volvo increased by 26.5%, which in-
dicates that after M&A, the growth of Volvo is not only
weakened, but also obtains considerable progress. How-
ever, the current market in Europe has entered the drop
period after spur growth, such situation will not condu-
cive to Volvo’s rapidly reduce losses and increase profits,
and long-term depression may made Volvo more depre-
ciatory, thus go against Geely’s capital gain. With the
recovery of the euro zone economy and the strength of
U.S. dollar gradually winding down, the drop of the
competitiveness of traditional industries in the euro area
will exert a tremendous influence on Volvo’s exports.
The shrinking market is still the biggest problem to Gee-
ly’s changing the fate of Volvo.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. iB
Strategic Analysis of Synergistic Effect on M&A of Volvo Car Corporation by Geely Automobile
3.2. Analysis on the Competitive Situation within
the Industry
Although Geely is the industry leader in the domestic
market, comparing with Japan, Germany and the United
States, there is a considerable gap in its production tech-
nology, market capacity and innovation ability. Whether
Geely can achieve synergistic effect through M&A de-
pends on its ability to get core competitiv eness. Therefore,
we need to analyze what factors constitute the company’s
core competencies and whether the companies can get core
competitiveness through M&A activities [11]. Factors of
core competencies include the following aspects.
1) Determining the scope of business.
Experience in the industry shows that most of the ma-
jor markets in the automotive industry are in a state of
over-competition, the time that only rely on market growth
to survive has passed. The first core competitiveness is
how to determine the scope of business clearly and accu-
2) Mastering the core technology.
The important features of the automotive industry are
the ever-changing technology and its rapid upgrade. En-
terprises which can not be unable to master core tech-
nology will be eliminated from the stage of international
3) The ability to attract and retain high-tech talents.
Automotive industry competition for talent is very in-
tense and to attract and retain talent is the key success
factor in the industry. If Geely can acquire a company or
business unit which has technical advantages and can
attract highly qualified technical personn el, it will be able
to form core competitiveness. The synergistic effect of
strategic M&A is the result of the formation and spread
of core competitiveness.
As the sharehold er owning 100 percent of the sto ck of
Volvo, Geely can obtain Volvo’s key technolog y, the use
rights of its intellectual property and at the same time
stay abreast of Ford’s developments. These favorable
conditions have a great significance to personn el training
and technological upgrading of Geely. Although Volvo’s
core technology can not be easily obtained, the technical
exchange and operation such as production base transfer
and adaptive improvement will certainly improve Gee-
ly’s manufacturing level and design conception remarka-
bly. Taking the advantage of Volvo’s automotive safety
technique is the key element of Geely’s M&A strategy.
In the future, safety performance will be made as one of
the core competitiveness of Geely’s products.
4. Analysis of the Mechanism of Synergistic
4.1. Management Synergy
Management synergy refers that the companies use its
extensive and efficient management resources through
new permutations and combinations after M&A to im-
prove the existing management and finally increase the
revenue. Geely’s M&A of Volvo belongs to horizontal
M&A and its main purpose is to obtain scale effect, ba-
sically reflect the management synergy. The mechanism
of management synergy can be manifested mainly in the
following aspects. First, Geely can make greater use of
production capacity and improve production efficiency.
Second, through the M&A of Volvo, Geely can expand
scale, thereby increasing the production equipment and
the labor force, thus improve the production efficiency.
Third, M&A activities will enable Geely to get part of
Volvo’s excellent management resources to achieve its
learning effect.
4.2. Operating Synergy
Operating synergy refers to the improvement of produc-
tion and operation efficiency of enterprises which caused
by economies of scale and economy of scope after M&A.
Through M&A, Geely’s operating synergy can be mani-
fested mainly in the following aspects. First, ge t some of
the market of Volvo, provide special production service
to different customer or market, use uniform distribution
channels to sell products and save marketing expenses.
Second, the fund of Geely will focus on R&D which can
help to further promote the formation of Geely’s core
competitiveness, launch new product rapidly and form
the root causes of synergies.
4.3. Financial Synergy
Financial synergy refers to the financial benefits gener-
ated by M&A transaction. It is a net cash flow on bene-
fits which are caused by tax laws, accounting standards
and other provisions of the securities and exchange.
Since there are differences in the capital structure be-
tween Geely and Volvo, this situation may produce the
following financial synergy effect. First, according to the
tax law, different tax rate should be applied to different
types of assets. Geely may achieve a reasonable tax
avoidance synergy through M&A. Second, M&A may
produce the expected effects such as the increase of the
stock price and the price-earning ratio [12]. The expected
effects have a great influence on M&A. As the scale of
M&A side are often large, when the acquirement is car-
ried out through share tran saction, its price-earnings ratio
is often used as the price-earnings ratio of the combined
companies after M&A, which may lead to the increase of
stock prices and make the market worth more than the
sum of the worth of two companies before M&A. But in
the weak form efficient market, this effect may not occur
The above analysis belon gs to the synergistic effect of
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. iB
Strategic Analysis of Synergistic Effect on M&A of Volvo Car Corporation by Geely Automobile9
tangible assets. In addition, Geely is also possible to
achieve some synerg istic effects of intangible assets su ch
as technology synergy, brand synergy and cultural syn-
ergy. According to “dynamic synergy” theory, if a com-
pany achieves synergistic effect of intangible assets
through M&A, it can get inexhaustible source of com-
petitive advantage.
5. Evaluation on Synergistic Effect
Volvo is one of the world’s major automobile manufac-
turers. Currently, as losses year by year, Ford which has
a controlling stake in Volvo intends to carry out indus-
trial restructuring and sell the stake of Volvo. In Sep-
tember 2009, Geely participated in the bid for Volvo, and
in March 2010, Geely successfully mergered 100% eq-
uity stake of Volvo.
For convenience of the calculation of synergistic effect
evaluation, the information assumptions of relevant pa-
rameters in the market of Geely and Volvo are as follows:
the risk free rate , the expected rate of market 6%
ER , each company’s debt interest rate,
, the income tax rate
10% 40%T
, the expected super-
normal growth period 10n
, risk coefficient
Geely 1.4
 .
We select 2009 financial reports published by Geely
and Volvo and made analysis on the data which were
important and relatively easier to obtain. The following
are relevant financial quantitative data of the two compa-
nies (see Table 1), for ease of calculation, the data are
modified moderately according to the raw data [14,15].
For synergistic effect evaluation, it is necessary to
predict the important variables influencing the company
value after M&A. This requires in-depth analysis of each
M&A program according to the evaluation factors. Be-
cause there is a strong correlation between the business
of Geely and Volvo, considering complementation and
promoti on o f management ability, production technology
and marketing channels, Geely’s M&A of Volvo will
Table 1. Relevant financial quantitative data of Geely and
Volvo in 2009. (Monetary unit: millions of dollars).
Financial index Geely Volvo
Debt 1800 24000
Equity capital 900 9000
Total assets 2700 33000
Operating income 1800 12800
Net profit 1180 653
)Total market value of capital ( S3300 1800
Source: financial report s p u b l ished by Geely and Volvo in 2009
help to develop Geely’s new products and improve its
profitability. The following estimate values are predicted
from the financial data of Geely and Volvo after M&A, it
reflects the results of the above qualitative analysis (see
Table 2).
Then we can use the internal model approach to evalu-
ate the M&A synergistic effect (namely the added value
of the combined company after M&A). The steps of syn-
ergistic effect evaluation are as follows.
1) Calculating new
value of the combined company.
To simplify the calculation, we assume that the new
value (GV
) of the combined company is the weighted
value of each component corporate, then put
the new
value into capital asset pricing model
(CAPM) to obtain the cost of equity capital of the com-
bined company (GV
Geely Volvo
GV GeelyVolvo
Geely VolvoGeely Volvo
 
 (1)
GV fmfGV
 
According to the known conditions, Table 1, Formulas
(1) and (2), we can obtain the result:
3300 1800
1.2 +1.4=1.27
3300+1800 3300+1800
 
6%11% 6%1.2712.35%
KS  
2) Calculating WACC of the combi ned comp any.
According to the known debt interest rate 10%KB
assume that the rate is unchanging after M&A, according
to the above calculation result of the cost of equity capi-
tal, we can obtain the weighted average cost of capital
(WA ). We first give the CC simple balance sheet of the
combined company after M&A (see Table 3).
Then we can calculate the weighted average cost of
capital (WA ): C C
  (3)
According to Formula (2), we can obtain the result:
9900 25800
=12.35%+10%1 50%=7.04%
35700 35700
Table 2. Forecast of the key parameters of the combined
company of Geely and Volvo.
Net operating income
(millions of dollars)
Net investment
GV( 240 0.9 0.4
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. iB
Strategic Analysis of Synergistic Effect on M&A of Volvo Car Corporation by Geely Automobile
Table 3. Simple balance sheet of the combined company
after M&A. (Monetary unit: millions of dollars).
Financial index combined company
after M&A(GW)
Debt ( 25800
Equity capital ( 9900
EVBTotal assets ( 35700
Source: financial reports published by Geely and Volvo in 2009
3) Calculating the value of the combined company.
According to Waston model, we can use the evaluation
model of zero growth after supernormal growth period to
evaluate the value of the combined co mpany af ter M&A,
according to the known conditions, the expected super-
normal growth period is 10 years. The formula is as fol-
11 11
GV i
gs xTgs
VxTb rrr
 
According to Formula (3), we can obtain the result:
240 140%10.910.0704
500 150%10.431493
0.0704 10.0704
GV i
 
According to the above calculation results, we can
make simple evaluation on the synergistic effect of the
combined company after M&A (GW) (see Table 4).
From the calculation results we can see that Geely’s
M&A of Volvo may generate the value-added (synergis-
tic effect) of 593 million dollars. The M&A synergistic
effect is positive number and meet the basic conditions of
M&A (GVGeely Volvo
VV ). At the same time, we should
consider the realization cost of M&A, which include the
M&A integration costs and pre-acquisition costs. The
maximum payment of Geely’s M&A of Volvo is the
value-added of synergistic effect
subtract the realization
costs of M&A.
The above analysis shows that when Geely make a
strategic decision on M&A, the synergistic effect evalua-
tion on value-added can help decision makers determine
the feasibility of different M&A schemes, thus provide
basis for setting price ceiling of M&A. During the proc-
ess of evaluation, it is usually required to give reasonable
evaluation on the expected return and risk of the com-
bined company in different M&A schemes. Although we
can use historical data as the basis for variable values, we
still must predict the earnings, growth and the risk of the
combin ed co mp an y ac co rding to diff er e n t M&A cir cu m-
Table 4. Simple evaluation on synergistic effect. (Monetary
unit: millions of dollars).
Financial index combined company
after M&A(GW)
Value of combined company31493
Less: Debt (25800
Equity capital after M&A (5693
Less: Total mar ke t val ue of ca pi ta l of G ee ly 3300
Less: Total market value of capital of Volvo1800
Incremental Value(Synergistic effect)593
stances. In order to make the prediction more close to
reality, it is necessary to give in-depth study of relevant
product market and the consequences of organizational
merger. But even so, the error of predictive results usu-
ally occurs unavoidably and sometimes the margin of
error is very large, thus lead to less accurate of the pre-
dictive results. Therefore, we should combine with other
evaluation met hods to predict reasonable synergistic ef-
fect gains, so as to provide the scientific basis for infor-
mation users to make proper strategic M&A decision.
6. Risks Analysis of the Realization of
Synergistic Effe ct
The risks of the realization of synergistic effect refers to
the uncertainty of the increment of corporation value and
the performance of strategic M&A. Such risks always
exist throughout the whole process of synergistic effect
realization. From the view of the root causes of the risks,
such risks can be divided into internal risks and external
risks, as shown in Figure 3.
Figure 3. Risks of the realization of synergistic effect.
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. iB
Strategic Analysis of Synergistic Effect on M&A of Volvo Car Corporation by Geely Automobile11
6.1. Internal Risks
Internal risks mainly refer to the synergistic effect of
risks which is caused by M&A transactions and integra-
tion. Synergistic effect of internal risks mainly includes
financial risk, integration risk, anti-M&A risk, princi-
pal-agent risk and asymmetric information risk.
1) Financial risk.
M&A often requires large amounts of capital, how to
raise funds in short term is very important. In this case,
Geely can use cash, stock or debt financing for the M&A.
Either way, there are great risks. If Geely use cash to
complete the M&A, there will have the following short-
comings: first of all, a one-time large amount of cash
outflow for M&A will cause intense pressure on the
production and management of the enterprise. Second,
the trade size will be restricted by the ability to obtain
cash and lead to the failure of a large-scale M&A.
Moreover, the merged side may not like cash payment,
because they can not get the new company’s equity, this
situation will also lead to M&A risks. However, lever-
aged acquisition is to bear greater risks. Although ini-
tially leveraged acquisition can achieve desired economic
benefits by paying a small price, but the repayment of
debt will give the enterprises serious pressure after M&A.
According to the mid-year report of Geely in 2009, its
total liabilities were 7.0 billion yuan RMB, and the total
assets were 13.67 billion yuan RMB, the debt ratio was
51.2%, the liquid capital was 1.88 billion yuan RMB.
After financing from Goldman Sachs in the United States,
the debt ratio of Geely was as high as 69%, more than the
international alert level of 65%. The key to success of
Geely’s M&A of Volvo is debt financing. Otherwise,
Geely will be heavily in debt and near trouble itself.
There are many examples of the bankruptcy of the “ad-
vantage” enterprises which could not pay the principal
and interest after heavy borrowing.
In order to avoid financial risk, Geely should establish
a financial early-warning index system, which include
short-term liquidity financial ratios such as liquidity ratio
< 2, quick ratio < 1, cash ratio < 30% and long-term li-
quidity financial ratios such as asset-liability ratio > 60%,
time interest earned ratio < 1.5. In addition, the acquiring
company should have plenty of cash flow, make sure that
investment can be matched with financing and avoid
short-term financing for long-term investment.
2) Integration risk.
According to a survey on the failure of M&A of Bain
& Company, about 80% of M&A failures are caused by
enterprise integ ration failur es and only about 2 0% appear
in the pre-transaction phase of M&A [16-18]. In this case,
the M&A integration risk of Geely manifested mainly in
the following three aspects: first, production and tech-
nology can not achieve the expected synergy after M&A.
For example, the M&A side usually wants to implement
diversification through M&A so as to enter new areas,
when the growth of the new areas are faced with obsta-
cles, it often makes M&A activities in trouble. Second,
the integration of personnel, institution and culture after
M&A. If the enterprise can not make effective integra-
tion according to the designed M&A plan, this will lead
to the conflict of personnel, institution and cultural be-
tween new and old enterprises and resulting in internal
friction. Third, the impact of M&A on business relation-
ships, such as the impact on customers and suppliers.
M&A might cause deterioration in external business re-
lationship and lose some customers and suppliers, thus
lead to the increase of enterprise’s operating costs and
reduction its profitability.
There are great differences in ideology, cultural and
social background, thinking mode between China and
western countries. Volvo has a series of problems of pen-
sion gap and liabilities, apart from these technical prob-
lems, cultural conflicts also can not be evaded. Volvo is a
luxury automobile brand in Sweden. Swedish trade un-
ions are known as “the world’s toughest workers” and
“the Northern Europe’s most powerful trade unions”,
whether Geely can lay down reasonable rules and regula-
tions according to the legal and cultural differences be-
tween the two countries will be the key to success after
the M&A In early years, some M&As such as TCL ac-
quired French Thomson in 2004 and BAIC’s acquisi-
tion of Saab and Opel owned by AM General in 2009
have all been considered to be viable acquisitions, but
eventually failed in “integration”. Also similar to
Lenovo’s acquisition of IBM, is still in a difficult cultural
integration at present.
In order to avoid integration risk, Geely should first
develop comprehensive integration plan to determine
how to integrate strategic resources, business processes
and core competencies of both sides so as to achieve the
strategic objectives of M&A. Second, in the establish-
ment of new business framework and organizational sys-
tem, Geely should be committed to the formation of core
competitiveness, peel off unrelated or risky businesses.
Third, the acquiring company should choose positive,
effective communication methods and channels such as
communication between the management of both sides,
communication between management and employees,
communication between the company and other external
stakeholders. Four, Geely should pay attention to cross-
culture management, fully understand cultural backg r o un d
and folkways of the target company, thus to form a new
corporate culture through effective integration based on
mutual respect and trust.
3) Anti-M&A risk.
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Strategic Analysis of Synergistic Effect on M&A of Volvo Car Corporation by Geely Automobile
Under normal circumstances, the merged enterprise’s
attitude of M&A is uncooperative. Because the merged
enterprises are usually inferior enterprises, they will find
ways to stop M&A. Such practices will greatly increase
the M&A risks [19-22]. In addition, under the modern
corporate governance structure, a successful M&A must
first be accepted by enterprise management, then adopted
by the board of directors in the enterprise, at last obtain
the consent of the large, small and medium-sized inves-
In this case, the original Volvo’s manager and techni-
cian will probably reject Geely’s M&A, because they
might lose the original management position and their
vested interests. They might try to prevent the integration
after M&A, thus reduce the synergistic effect and lead to
anti-M&A risk. In addition, if Geely’s acquisition offer is
accepted by the majority shareholder of Volvo, for in-
stance, there are 40% of the circulated stockholders who
agree on the offer, but some small shareholders are str-
ongly opposed to it and require Geely to raise its offer,
such situation may also lead to anti-M&A risks and re-
duce the M&A synergies. Another anti-M&A case such
as Aluminum Corp of China’s investment in Australia’s
third-largest mining company Rio Tinto in 2009. In June
2010, Rio Tinto suddenly renounced the plan of capital
injection of 19.5 billion dollars in Aluminum Corp of
China and determined to pay rationed shares of 15.2 bil-
lion dollars to set up iron ore joint venture with BHP
In order to avoid anti-M&A risk, Geely can adopt the
measures of competing for shareholder vote, launching
media offensive, placate the trade unions and customers
to reduce the resistance of anti-M&A action of the target
company. Furthermore, for possible conflicts of interest,
United States, Britain, Hong Kong, Germany, the Euro-
pean Community and other countries and regions place
strict limits on anti-takeover measures of the target com-
pany. For example, the “Business Judgment Rule” of
United States, the “City Code” of Britain and Hong Kong,
the “Merger and Acquisition Regulations” of Germany
and the 13th Directive of EU Company Law are all in-
clude restrictions on the anti-takeover measures of the
target company. These restrictions relatively reduce the
difficulty of M&A.
4) Principal-a gent risk.
Currently, the property right of many China’s state-
owned enterprises is not clear, the appointment and re-
moval of the key management personnel are mainly
based on China’s administrative structure. For pursuing
business expansion, the senior executives with informa-
tion superiority might ignore the interests of shareholders
to meet the needs of their individual fame and fortune.
The “out of control” risk of principal-agent relationship
in M&A decision is very dangerous.
As Geely is a listed company, the relationship between
its manager and corporate owners is principal-agent rela-
tionship. The company management might pursuit com-
pany expansion for their own interests to show their per-
formance. They have information superiority and might
agreed on the unreasonable terms of the target company
without considering its own financial and operating con-
ditions. This conduct will increase the realization cost of
synergy and reduce d syner gy benefits.
In order to avoid principal-agent risk, Geely should
first conduct rigorous project selection and establish a
scientific feasibility research system. Second, Geely
should set up a more complete corporate governance
structure and control mechanism, the operators should
report accurate and abundant information of M&A to the
board of directors timely and the board of directors
should provide effective supervision on the M&A man-
agement layer. Third, the board of directors should offer
incentives to the managers and other stakeholders of
M&A, such as linking their income with M&A effective,
presenting them stock options, such measures will en-
courage them to make a favorable M&A decision and
focus on integrated management of the company after
M&A [23,24].
5) Asymmetric information risk.
In the market mechanism of incomplete competition,
the problem of information asymmetry is quite general.
During the course of strong company’s acquisition of
target company, the target company’s executives might
conceal the facts such as enterprise’s hidden losses of
contingent liability and the true value of patents to
achieve their private intentions. They might also collude
with the agency or the insider of the strong enterprise to
make false information so that the policy makers of the
merging side might make wrong decisions [25]. In this
case, due to the global financial crisis, part of the Vol-
vo’s clients in the market has been badly hit, the man-
agement of Volvo might conceal their hidden losses of
liabilities and the true value of intangible assets, thus
lead Geely to make wrong decisions.
In order to avoid asymmetric information risk, Geely
should forecast synergy reasonably and avoid over-
payment. To prevent over-payment, Geely should first
optimize company’s governance structure and implement
a performance management system linked to the reward
system, thus to reduce the losses caused by information
asymmetry. Second, Geely should invest in stages to
reduce the risk, on the one hand, to test the tacit coopera-
tion of the two sides, on the other hand, to disperse risks
effectively. Third, the government should play a positive
role in M&A. The government may grant the acquiring
company a favorable financial environment and reason-
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. iB
Strategic Analysis of Synergistic Effect on M&A of Volvo Car Corporation by Geely Automobile13
able “rules of the game”, thus to ensure the standard be-
havior in investment and interests of the parties [26].
6.2. External Risks
As synergistic effect is based on certain of development
strategy and the formulation of such a development
strategy is based on external environment, therefore, the
changes in external environment not only affects the en-
terprise’s development strategy, but also cause the devia-
tion from the expected synergies. The external risks of
synergistic effect mainly include policy risk, legal risk
and industrial risk.
1) Policy risk.
Policy risk refers to the synergy risk which caused by
the adjustment of national economic policies. In particu-
lar, during the course of the state-owned enterprises’ re-
form, in some places, there exist the phenomena of
regional protectionism which caused by rent-seeking
activities of the local governments. Namely, the govern-
ment develops special policies to protect the vested in-
terests of government and “special groups” or uses ad-
ministrative means to arbitrarily change its policy to de-
stroy the normal order of market competition, such beha-
vior would increase the risk of synergy. In this case,
when Geely makes decision, it should take into account
the effect of national economic policy on synergistic ef-
fect. At the same time, Geely might set up corresponding
subsidiary in Sweden after M&A, therefore, the Swedish
government’s policies in the industry can not be ignored.
In order to av oid policy risk, Geely should first under-
stand that which local interest groups have associated
with its M&A. If Geely can rely on the local interest
groups to establish lasting relationships, foster the rela-
tionship network between different interest groups, it will
be able to avoid or reduce the M&A risk, such as obtain
the information on policy changes in advance. Second,
strengthening cooperation between the acquiring com-
pany and the development banks and other financial in-
stitutions of the host country will also help determine the
risk of the local situation in the process of M&A. Third,
it’s better to sign a M&A agreement on the rights and
obligations with the host government thus to regulate the
behaviors of both sides.
2) Legal risk.
Legal risk mainly lies in the following three aspects.
The first is the provisions of anti-monopoly law. Most of
western countries developed a series of anti-monopoly
laws to safeguard fair competition. At present, although
there are no corresponding laws promulgated in our
country, but when the concentration of the industry in-
creased to a certain level, the relevant legislation is in-
dispensable; the second is the specific provisions of
M&A in the law. For instance, according to the corre-
lated laws, if the acquirer holds 5% of a listed company’s
shares, it must notice and suspend trading, for each 2%
subsequent increment, it is necessary to repeat the proc-
ess, if holding 30% of the shares, it must launch a com-
prehensive tender offer. This provision leads to great
increase of the acquisition costs and M&A risk. Thirdly,
during the course of M&A, as laws and regulations are
incomplete, the conduct of company can not be guided
correctly, thus result in the increase of M&A risk. In this
case, Geely’s board of directors may face resource inte-
gration issues after M&A such as rehiring new employ-
ees and dismissing older employees. In the aspect of
dismissal legal system, there are many differences be-
tween Swedish and Chinese labor law. From the view of
Swedish Labor Court’s judicial practice of 70 years, in
practice, judges are often biased in favor of the workers
in weak position. Therefore, after M&A, Geely should
lay stress on the dismissal of “legitimate reasons” in the
legal relationship between employers and employee. In
addition, as China’s current legal system of M&A is not
perfect, if Geely’s legitimate rights and interests are in-
fringed but lack of corresponding legal protection, the
synergy risk will increase.
In order to avoid legal risk, Geely should first study the
domestic and international laws and policies related to
M&A thoroughly. Second, Geely should engage lawyers,
accountants and other professional advisers to participate
in the M&A and formulate the terms of the agreement.
Third, use different methods of payment according to the
laws of different countries. There are many kinds of
M&A payment, such as cash payment, stock payment,
debt payment and comprehensive security payment. In
transnational M&A, stock paym ent often encounters some
legal obstacles. This measure may not minimize the cost
of M&A, but it makes the M&A feasible.
3) Industrial risk.
Industry risk refers to the uncertainty of the industry
prospects caused by the changes of country’s economic
situation and industrial policy, which might influence the
enterprise development strategy. In the process of M&A
decision-making, many enterprises sink into woeful situ-
ation because they are not familiar with the new industry
they wish to enter or without a accurate grasp of the in-
dustry prospects. The “big diving” of e-commerce enter-
prises in the last two years are good examples.
In order to avoid industrial risk, Geely should consider
the development law of industrial life cycle. Currently,
China’s high-end luxury car is still in the introduction
period, Geely may encounter less domestic competitors
in this industry. But as the product gradually entering the
growth stage of product life cycle, more and more com-
petitors will be attracted to the market and the market
position of Geely will be threatened. In addition, in the
Copyright © 2011 SciRes. iB
Strategic Analysis of Synergistic Effect on M&A of Volvo Car Corporation by Geely Automobile
domestic market, automobile is still a luxury, the price
elasticity of demand is relatively high, once the macro-
economic situation shows a decline trend, and the profits
of Geely in the industry will be greatly reduced. This will
definitely increase the M&A synergy risk .
7. Conclusions
With the constant development of market economy, the
number and scale of assets reorganization, M&A and
cross-regional joint of Chinese enterprises has been on a
rapid rise in recent years. At present, the trend of Chinese
enterprises’ M&A has shifted from financial-based M&A
to strategy-based M&A and shown the following new
features: the scale of M&A has enlarged gradually;
strong enterprises are starting to consider M&A as a
business development strategy; share acquisition of listed
companies has become an important form of M&A;
M&A has shown a trend of diversification, securitization
and internationalization; M&A motive has transformed
from prevenient simple M&A based on single motive to
strategic M&A based on industrial integration and ex-
pansion [27,28].
International M&A trends suggest that the main moti-
vation for M&A is no longer just the pursuit of econo-
mies of scale and market price-earnings ratio, but to
consolidate the future global economic situation and the
strategic position of market competition, namely so-
called strategic M&A. As a developing country in the
rising phase, China must size up the situation and
achieve synergistic effect through the implementation of
strategic M&A according to her own development needs
and thereby enhance the international competitiveness of
Chinese enterprises.
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