Volvo Cars CEO Jacoby on Sick Leave After Suffering Mild Stroke

Volvo Car Corp. CEO Stefan Jacoby
Stefan Jacoby, chief executive officer of Volvo Cars. Photographer: Adrian Moser/Bloomberg

Volvo Car Corp. Chief Executive Officer Stefan Jacoby said he will be out on sick leave for about a month after suffering a “mild” stroke.

Jacoby, 54, is under medical supervision and has started the recovery process after suffering the stroke last week, the Swedish carmaker said in a statement on its website yesterday.

Jan Gurander, Volvo’s chief financial officer, will step in as acting CEO. Gurander and sales chief Doug Speck will take over Jacoby’s responsibilities, such as meeting the media at the Paris auto show this week, spokesman Per-Ake Froberg said.

Jacoby joined Volvo as CEO in August 2010 when Chinese manufacturer Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co. bought the Gothenburg-based carmaker from Ford Motor Co. for $1.8 billion. Jacoby, a German national, was recruited from his position as head of Volkswagen AG’s U.S. operations.

“I have started to recuperate and already notice certain improvements,” Jacoby said in the statement. “Now I will focus on resting and exercising, in order to get back to work as soon as possible. I am, however, in ongoing contact” with Volvo’s executive management team and board of directors.

Jacoby has increased the Swedish carmaker’s focus on the Chinese market, initiating the construction of two car factories and one engine plant in the world’s biggest auto market. The executive plans to nearly double Volvo’s deliveries to 800,000 vehicles by 2020 from 449,255 last year.

Building Capacity

Jacoby is investing in Volvo even as its core market in Europe is set to fall for a fifth straight year.

“We are building up our capacity in a declining market,” Jacoby said in an interview in Stockholm on Sept. 5. “Ford had left Volvo in a situation where Volvo wasn’t sustainable. No new products, no growth, no investments in China and so on. That’s what we’re adding now.”

Volvo’s earnings before interest and taxes dropped to 239 million kronor ($36.4 million) in the first six months of 2012 from 1.53 billion kronor a year earlier. Sales rose 3.9 percent to 65.3 billion kronor.

Before joining Volvo, Jacoby had been VW’s top U.S. executive since September 2007. There he cut costs, designed the first models for the U.S. market, added an assembly plant in Tennessee and moved the headquarters to Virginia from Michigan.

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