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Picture: REUTERS/BOB STRONG/FILE PHOTO
Picture: REUTERS/BOB STRONG/FILE PHOTO

Volvo Cars slashed its initial public offering by a fifth, making it the latest in a string of European companies to pull back from equity markets roiled by soaring energy costs and persistent supply chain delays.

The carmaker, owned by China’s Zhejiang Geely Holding Group , is now selling shares to raise about 20-billion kronor ($2.3bn) , Volvo said Monday. It also set a price of 53 kronor a share, at the low end of its initial range. 

A glut of similar IPOs and the hard-to-value stake Volvo Cars owns in electric sports carmaker Polestar has curbed investor appetite under the originally planned terms, according to people familiar with proceedings said. The Swedish manufacturer initially projected a valuation of between $19bn and $23bn.

Volvo Cars seeks to sell only fully electric vehicles by the end of this decade and to build a battery plant in Europe. The company will use the IPO funds to add car-making capacity to almost double annual sales to 1.2-million vehicles by 2025.

“The proceeds raised from the IPO together with our strong balance sheet will secure the funding of our fastest transformer strategy and the delivery of our mid-decade ambitions,” CEO Hakan Samuelsson said in the statement. 

European companies including Dutch consumer-electronics retailer Coolblue and healthcare property company Icade Sante put IPO plans on ice in recent weeks as investors became picky about where they put their money amid a flurry of deals. Equity markets worldwide have also turned volatile amid soaring energy prices, faster inflation and a debt crisis at China Evergrande Group. 

Key Test

Volvo’s listing is a key test for investor appetite as traditional carmakers are under pressure to electrify their model line-ups and keep up with record spending on digital and autonomous-driving features. Geely is attempting to float Volvo for a second time, after investors didn’t take to a previous attempt in 2018 for a valuation of as much as $30bn. 

In Volvo’s current plan, investors also balked at Geely retaining almost all of the company’s voting rights, prompting a change in the share structure on Friday that slightly lowered the level of control. The reduced listing plan will have a free float of as much as 17.9%, Volvo said. 

The company also delayed its trading start in Stockholm by a day to October 29. 

The amended listing still marks a win for Geely Holding, which picked up Volvo from Ford 11 years ago for $1.8bn. Keeping much of its independence, the carmaker flourished under the new ownership with China becoming its largest market, followed by the US , Sweden and Germany. 

Bloomberg. More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

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