Page last updated at 14:55 GMT, Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Profile: Geely Automobile

Customers inspect a Geely car, China
Geely is one of China's largest private car makers

China's Geely Automobile has come a long way - from refrigerator parts supplier to the expected new owner of Volvo.

The company did not begin manufacturing cars until 1997, but is now one of China's largest carmakers.

Geely was founded in 1986 by Li Shufu, an engineer currently ranked as China's 123rd-richest man with a fortune of $1bn.

He began by supplying refrigerator parts, but then moved on to manufacturing motorcycle parts and eventually motorcycles in the early 1990s.

The company's first car, the Geely Haoqing SRV, rolled off the production line in 1998, and in 2001 Geely became the first private car manufacturer certified by the Chinese government.

It currently operates six car manufacturing plants across China, with a production capacity of 300,000 cars a year, as well as further plants in other countries including Russia and Ukraine.

It also runs 500 car dealerships and 600 service stations in China, and employs a total of 12,000 people.

Stock listing

In 2005, the company listed on the Hong Kong stock exchange, with Li Shufu as chairman.

Its share price has risen more than 500% in the last 12 months alone, largely following the speculation that it would buy the Volvo brand from Ford.

In 2007 Geely formed a joint venture with Manganese Bronze Holdings, in a deal to start manufacturing the iconic London taxi in China.

In the same year, it announced plans to focus on markets outside China.

However, international sales are currently small compared with domestic sales of 300,000 cars last year and a projected 400,000 sales next year.

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