AB Volvo, the Swedish truck manufacturer, bids $1.07 billion Tuesday to acquire Japan’s Nissan Diesel to establish a solid presence in Asia.
The bid was the latest attempt of the automaker to bolster its global presence. The said attempt would vest Volvo a full ownership of Nissan Diesel from the recent 19 percent to realize Volvo’s ambitions in Asia, where the automaker is lacking a local brand. Volvo has Mack Trucks in the United States and Renault Trucks in Europe hence; short of support in Asia.
Analysts say that the Volvo Cars division is doing just fine. It has earlier launched fresh vehicles that radiate new design philosophy. They boast of EBC greenstuff, body parts, advanced amenities and safety features.
AB Volvo is the second largest truck maker around the globe next to Daimler Chrysler AG of Germany. On the other hand, Nissan Diesel is the fourth largest truck maker in Japan. To acquire Nissan Diesel could be the key for the much-awaited dominance in the auto truck market.
Volvo said it estimates Nissan Diesel’s net interest-bearing debt at $1.07 billion, bringing the total cost of its planned acquisition of the Japanese truck maker to 15 billion kronor, or $2.14 billion. Iwao Nakamura, president of Nissan Diesel Motor Co. said the move will save costs in development and purchasing, including emission-reducing technologies, and present opportunities for efficient investments for long-term growth. “What we want the most is growth,” he told reporters at a Tokyo hotel. “This move is the most effective way to achieve growth.”
Chief Executive Leif Johansson said Volvo sped up the takeover plans to prepare for tougher emissions standards being introduced in Japan in 2010. “It’s important to do this deal now and not in few years,” Johansson told reporters in Stockholm. “We have some very important emission standards coming up and in the short term we can share R&D on that.”
Analysts also expressed positive comments regarding the deal. They said it would help Volvo gain a foothold in Asia. “By doing it now, the company can also avoid the risk of sharing strategic clean-engine technology with a possible competitor,” said Danske Bank analyst Henrik Breum. “You need to act now to be ready,” he said. “It is too dangerous to provide such research and development in shared efforts.”
The 540 yen ($4.52) cash per share offer represents the premium of 32 percent. Said amount is based on Nissan Diesel’s average share price in the past three months. According to Nissan Diesel, its shared rose 18 percent in Tokyo to a bid-only 523 yen ($4.37), up from its Monday’s close at 443 yen ($3.71). Consequently, Volvo shares were up 2 percent at 560 kronor ($79.70) in early trading after finished up 0.18 percent at 549 kronor ($59.40) in Stockholm a day earlier when news of the bid first broke.
Jorma Halonen, Executive Vice President of Volvo Group, said that Nissan Diesel would retain its name and that management will stay Japanese. Volvo is aiming for 20 percent to 25 percent market share in Asia, about the same share the group controls in the U.S. and Europe, Halonen said in Tokyo, without giving a target date.
Nissan Diesel’s strengths in Asia, including Thailand and Indonesia, are a good complement for Volvo, Halonen said. He said 100 percent ownership will help quicken decision-making, likely to prove critical in keeping abreast of upcoming more stringent emission requirements around the world. Volvo added if approved by antitrust authorities, the deal would be completed by March 29.
“During our joint synergy study, great trust grew between the companies and I believe that the merger is the best alternative for Nissan Diesel’s future,” Nakamura concluded.
About the Author
Anthony Fontanelle is a 35-year-old automotive buff who grew up in the Windy City. He does freelance work for an automotive magazine when he is not busy customizing cars in his shop.