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The Volvo 360c Autonomous Concept from 2018. Volvo sounded out investors about a potential listing in 2018, but early feedback indicated a lower-than-expected valuation and the company tabled the idea. Image Credit: Supplied

China's Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd. and its Swedish affiliate Volvo Cars will collaborate more closely on electric and self-driving vehicles while putting off earlier plans to merge.

The manufacturers will preserve their separate corporate structures while cooperating more closely on powertrains, electrification and autonomous-driving technology, according to a joint statement. While they'll no longer pursue a combination as announced in February of last year, new listings could be on the table.

"The deeper collaboration will enable existing stakeholders and potential new investors in Volvo Cars and Geely Auto to value their respective standalone strategies, performance, financial exposure and returns,” the companies said Wednesday. "We will also have the opportunity to explore capital market options."

Billionaire Li Shufu has been forging ties with a vast array of companies as Geely pushes to stay abreast of the two great shifts hitting the industry: electrification and automation. In less than a month earlier this year, Geely agreed to collaboration pacts with search-engine heavyweight Baidu Inc., Apple Inc.'s Taiwanese manufacturing partner Foxconn Technology Group and Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Li has long championed partnerships and consolidation as ways for automakers to pool resources for costly initiatives including self-driving cars. In the course of building a global carmaking empire over three decades, he's become Daimler AG's largest shareholder and snapped up Volvo in 2010. He's also amassed stakes in European legacy brands such as Lotus as well as Malaysia's Proton.

Earlier this week, Geely announced it plans to set up a new unit for smart-car development.

Volvo sounded out investors about a potential listing in 2018, but early feedback indicated a lower-than-expected valuation and the company tabled the idea.