Ford is likely to complete the sale of its Volvo Cars unit in the latter part of this year according to Swedish industry ministry state secretary Joeran Haegglund.

He said the government was in contact with Ford although the carmaker was not in the same rush to dispose of the unit as General Motors, in the process of selling Saab Automobile to Koenigsegg Automotive.

Ford and GM are divesting their Swedish units to focus on fewer brands amid the worst recession since the 'great depression' of the 1930s. Saab's new car registrations in Europe slumped 63% in June while Volvo's European sales fell 14%.

Haegglund said: "Ford has a slower pace than GM and Saab and we expect a sale will be completed in the latter part of the year."

He added it would be "strange" to assume that one of Sweden's state pension funds may participate in a Volvo bid. Media reported earlier China's Geely Automotive Holdings wanted to buy a majority Volvo stake with an unidentified Swedish investor while letting Ford retain a slice.

Sweden's government has said it had no intention of owning the national carmakers.