KDB chief thanks FTC head for speeding up reviews of mega mergers

KDB chief thanks FTC head for speeding up reviews of mega mergers

KDB chief Lee Dong-gull, left, and KFTC chief Joh Sung-wook

By Kim Yoo-chul

Korea Development Bank (KDB) Chairman Lee Dong-gull thanked Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) chief Joh Sung-wook for the anti-trust regulator’s support to accelerate its review of two mega acquisition deals.

“I appreciate KFTC chief Joh’s recent moves regarding deals for the Korean Air-Asiana Airlines acquisition and Hyundai Heavy Industries’ suggested acquisition of Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME). I strongly hope to see positive results,” the chief of the state-run bank told reporters during an online briefing, Tuesday.

Lee said the approval by the KFTC of the two pending deals will help boost the competitiveness of the relevant industries.

“From that standpoint, it’s imperative for South Korea’s industries to become stronger with the KFTC approving the two pending deals,” Lee said.

A few months ago, Lee asked the KFTC to swiftly complete its review of the two merger plans and voiced his dissatisfaction over the delay. The anti-trust regulator has been reviewing the mega deals for the past two years.

The KDB chief said no substantial progress has been made in the status of the Korean Air-Asiana Airlines merger.

“It’s quite tough to predict the exact timing of the completion of the review on the issue. But again, in order to normalize the local aviation industry, immediate approval is necessary,” he told reporters.

Edison Motors was chosen as the preferred negotiator to purchase ailing SsangYong Motor and Lee said the KDB is not considering providing any financial support for Edison.

“The reason is simple. Edison Motors has yet to complete its acquisition of SsangYong.”

But he remained quite doubtful over the willingness of Edison Motors to close the SsangYong deal.

“Well, amid the rapidly changing trend in the electric vehicle industry, the central point is how to reduce battery recharging time and extend running time forcing major carmakers to announce cash-intensive plans for EVs. I read a news report that said Edison Motors will invest 50 billion won, while Hyundai Motor and Volkswagen plan to invest 112 trillion won and 62 trillion won to develop vehicles. Is it feasible for Edison Motors to do this? Can Edition Motors satisfy customer expectations? I am a bit doubtful of this (Edison Motors’ SsangYong revival plan),” the KDB head told reporters.

He his hope for frictionless discussions between the bank and Edison Motors over support while stating that no requests for financial assistance have been filed.

“I hope for the acquisition to progress smoothly without KDB’s support. It’s not ideal that Edison Motors has been stressing the amount of collateral. We can invest but if we think there are possibilities for the company to survive with our financial support.”

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