If you've looked at Volvo's (NASDAQ:VOLV) balance sheet lately, you may have noticed a debt-free $4.5 billion lying around, not doing much. Major investors have seen that bulging vault, too, and they're trying to put it to work.

A large hedge fund has bought millions of the company's A shares (the kind that comes with more voting power) over the past week, pushing the share price up by more than 5%. The Swedish financial media is abuzz with speculation about the intentions of the raised stakes, and many observers think that the fund is hoping to force a massive dividend payout. A recent research report from JPMorgan Chase (NYSE:JPM) notes that the company could distribute special dividends of as much as 50 billion Swedish kronor, or about $7 billion, but CEO Leif Johansson has other plans for that cash hoard.

Johansson says that the management team is looking for opportunities to use much of that money to expand into markets like China and Russia in a big way through direct acquisitions. He thinks that organic growth will be hard to come by for the next few years, and he's ready to grow the expensive way instead.

The company will consider "anything within its business areas," so anything from trucks and boat engines to heavy construction equipment and airplane engines seems to be fair game. With cash alone, Volvo could afford to look west and buy either Navistar (NYSE:NAV) or Oshkosh Trucks (NYSE:OSK) -- and nearly both at the same time. Nearly every truck maker save Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick Paccar (NASDAQ:PCAR) is within reach. I don't know exactly what opportunities exist to the east, but given Johansson's comments, I expect to hear more about that soon.

So an activist investor wants a juicy one-time payout, while management wants to grow the business instead. I can't say that I'd be disappointed with either outcome, but if you're holding this stock for the long term, then long-term reinvestment in the business is the more attractive option. Accordingly, this Fool is cheering Mr. Johansson every step of the way.

Further Foolishness:

Paccar is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor recommendation, while JPMorgan Chase is a Motley Fool Income Investor pick. Whatever your investing style, the Fool has a newsletter for you.

Fool contributor Anders Bylund is a Volvo shareholder, but holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings if you like. Foolish disclosure keeps you truckin'.