Volvo Cars IPO Draws Lower Valuations in Initial Feedback

(Bloomberg) -- Initial investor feedback has valued Volvo Cars far below owner Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co.’s top-end estimates for a potential listing, people familiar with the matter said.

Select institutional investors have indicated the Swedish carmaker is worth about $12 billion to $18 billion in early meetings to discuss an initial public offering, the people said, asking not to be named as the deliberations are confidential. China’s Zhejiang Geely and Volvo Cars had discussed a value of $16 billion to $30 billion, people familiar with the matter said in May.

Representatives for Zhejiang Geely and Volvo declined to comment.

A mismatch on the automaker’s worth could mean Volvo Cars stays private for longer, the people said. Zhejiang Geely had sought a significant premium to the multiples commanded by other automakers, including Daimler AG and BMW AG, they said.

The Chinese owners were planning to sell shares as early as the fall in Hong Kong and Sweden, people familiar with the plans said previously. Closely held Zhejiang Geely acquired Volvo Cars in 2010, and refreshed its lineup of vehicles to make it a popular alternative to German luxury stalwarts.

Investors have been responsive to Volvo Cars’s initiatives, such as autonomous driving and electrification, helping it achieve a premium to some peers, one of the people said. Volvo Cars said it was the first global carmaker to announce plans to move exclusively to electric vehicles starting next year.

Daimler, which has dropped about 17 percent so far this year, is trading at about 6.13 times earnings, while BMW trades at about 6 times, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. A valuation of $12 billion for Volvo would imply the automaker is being valued at about 7.5 times 2017 operating income.

Zhejiang Geely’s Swedish unit holds 99 percent of Volvo Car AB, while a group of Swedish institutional investors holds the remaining 1 percent through another class of shares, according to its website.

Companies and their shareholders globally have sold stock worth almost $126 billion in IPOs so far this year, compared with $119 billion in the same period in 2017, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The largest listing was by Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi Corp., which raised $4.7 billion after selling stock at the lower end of its marketed range.

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