LA LETTRE DE CORÉE Aôut 2003 Centre Coréen du Commerce Extérieur et des Investissements http://www.kotraparis.com
MERCI DE PRENDRE NOTE DE NOS NOUVELLES COORDONNÉESKOTRA PARIS - 19 avenue de l'Opéra - 75001 Paris Téléphone : +33 (0) 155 35 88 80 - Télécopie : +33 (0) 155 35 88 89 - email : email@example.com M. Dong Wong Lee - Directeur M. Frédéric Claveau - Responsable Investissements
¤ POLITIQUE ECONOMIQUE, MACRO-ECONOMIE ET RESTRUCTURATIONS
¤ SECTEURS ECONOMIQUES
¤ ENTREPRISES COREENNES
¤ ENTREPRISES FRANÇAISES
- SEOUL PREVOIT UNE SORTIE RAPIDE DE LA RECESSION
La Corée du Sud ne se démoralise pas. Le pays du Matin-Calme vient certes d'enregistrer pour la première fois depuis 1998 deux trimestres consécutifs de recul de son produit intérieur brut (PIB), mais les pouvoirs publics comme la majorité des économistes prévoient une sortie de cette récession dès la seconde moitié de l'année. "Le PIB est un rétroviseur. Il indique ce qui vient de se passer, pas ce qui va advenir ", souligne Rob Subbaraman, économiste chez Lehman Brothers qui mise sur une croissance de 4 % du produit intérieur brut de la Corée du Sud sur l'ensemble de l'année. " Pour 2004, la croissance pourrait même atteindre 7 % dans la mesure ou l'effet de base sera très favorable", ajoute-t-il.
Au cours du deuxième trimestre, le PIB de la Corée a reculé de 0,7 % par rapport au trimestre précédent qui avait déjà été marqué par une contraction de 0,4 %. Sur un an, la croissance sur le premier semestre n'est que de 2,4 %, contre + 6,4 % sur la même période l'an dernier.
Des facteurs spécifiques
Sur le trimestre écoulé, les principaux moteurs de l'économie coréenne se sont tous éteints simultanément. La consommation des ménages a reculé de 1,2 %, l'investissement des entreprises a cédé 2,5 % et les exportations de biens ont chuté de 1,1 %. Comme toutes les économies, la Corée a été affectée par la dégradation de la conjoncture internationale mais outre la guerre en Irak, la hausse du prix du pétrole, l'épidémie de SRAS, le pays a également été touché par des facteurs spécifiques comme les tensions autour de la Corée du Nord, les scandales dans le monde des entreprises (déroute du conglomérat SK) et la fin des dérives sur le marché du crédit à la consommation.
Le consommateur " en hibernation "
" Le consommateur coréen, assommé par autant de chocs, est entré en hibernation. Mais les tensions se sont atténuées et la consommation des ménages pourrait rebondir dès la fin du troisième trimestre. L'investissement des entreprises devrait repartir au cours du quatrième trimestre ", estime Rob Subbaraman qui souligne qu'outre la hausse de la Bourse qui devrait jouer un impact psychologique favorable, l'économie coréenne sera soutenue par des taux d'intérêts très bas, un plan de relance budgétaire qui aura un impact positif de 0,7 % sur le PIB et une monnaie nationale qui reste très compétitive.
Un retour du SRAS avec l'entrée dans l'hiver, une dégradation du climat social qui semble de plus en plus tendu ou un dérapage dans les relations avec la Corée du Nord pourraient toutefois venir compliquer la tâche d'une Corée du Sud qui, depuis la crise asiatique de 1997, a prouvé qu'elle était capable de se sortir de situations difficiles. BARROUX David
Source : Les Echos - 25/08/03
- 10 SECTORS NAMED AS GROWTH ENGINES
A new leaf is about to turn in Korea's industrial field, as the central government has identified 10 next-generation businesses that will fuel the nation's growth during the coming decade.
The government said yesterday that it has confirmed 10 sectors as Korea's strategic future industries, in cooperation with the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Information and Communication.
The 10 selected fields are intelligent home networks, digital-content software, intelligent robots, futuristic automobiles, next-generation semiconductors, digital TV/broadcasting, display technologies, next-generation mobile telecommunications, next-generation batteries and biomedical products.
Within the general 10 titles are 80 specific goods and technologies that were recommended by each of the three managing ministries and another 54 suggested by six other research-oriented departments, including the ministries for defense, environment and culture.
"We handpicked those businesses that will bring immediate profits within the next five years. Now that we have narrowed down the fields, we can concentrate full force on advancing them," a government official said.
According to the blueprint, the ministries will specify the first batch among the 134 industries that they will support first. Actual development will begin next year.
Meanwhile, the cooperative plan produced by the three ministries, whose combined research and development budget exceeds 1 trillion won ($847 million), is the first real joint effort across many ministries to boost progress in the local industry.
Initially, the three ministries had each compiled independent lists of fields to foster, but there were problems, such as overlapping of sectors and an overall sense of confusion.
Cheong Wa Dae decided to step in and solve the problem by demanding a single list assembled collectively by the three major ministries and approved by other supporting ones in a move to better organize and control the advancement drive.
Source : Korea Herald - 11/08/2003
- S KOREA TO CHALLENGE OPPONENTS OF OPEN MARKETS
South Korea's finance ministry is pushing to remove the country's remaining barriers to foreign goods and services, as part of efforts to liberalise Asia's third-largest economy.
Kwon Tae-shin, deputy finance minister, pledged to challenge the "selfish" interest groups that opposed the opening of protected markets.
"Korea must open up," Mr Kwon told the Financial Times. "We have already crossed the bridge of no return. We cannot go backwards. For Korea there is no option except open our markets and do business with foreign companies."
Mr Kwon said the legal services market - currently closed to overseas law firms - was the first that should be liberalised, followed by the film industry, education, medical services and agriculture.
South Korea has opened most of its markets to foreign goods since the country's 1997 financial crisis but foreign access to South Korea's service and agricultural markets remains limited.
Overseas companies are eager for access to South Korea because it has one of Asia's biggest and fastest-growing economies, despite a sharp slowdown this year.
Mr Kwon said the Doha round of international trade negotiations provided an opportunity for South Korea to take further steps towards liberalisation.
But he admitted reforms faced resistance from conservative and populist elements in the government and society.
"About 70-80 per cent of government officials know the importance of opening up the service market. But the final decision is made in the [presidential] Blue House and [opposition-controlled] parliament," said Mr Kwon.
The most bitter conflict involves the finance ministry's proposal to remove barriers to foreign films in cinemas - a move opposed by the government's culture minister, a former film director. Cinemas are obliged to show Korean films on at least 146 days each year, to promote the country's film industry and prevent local culture being eroded.
However, Mr Kwon said the domestic film industry no longer needed protection, pointing out that cinemas showed more Korean films than they were required to because of growing public demand for home-grown entertainment.
The US is putting pressure on Seoul to abandon screen quotas, as part of a proposed bilateral investment treaty.
South Korea was once known as the "Hermit Kingdom", such was its resistence to foreign influence. The country's self-reliance is reflected in its rapid economic development since the 1960s, achieved by manufacturing cheap goods for export while resisting imported products.
However, Mr Kwon said it was no longer possible for countries to protect domestic markets as the world economy became more integrated.
He pointed to the UK as an example of a country that had prospered by opening its economy.
Most banks in London were foreign-owned but the UK enjoyed the benefit of their investment in the city, he said, drawing a parallel with the Wimbledon tennis championship.
"The UK hosts Wimbledon but the champion is always from overseas. You never see a British champion of Wimbledon but Britain gets the benefit from hosting the tournament," said Mr Kwon.By Andrew Ward
Source : Financial times - 11/08/2003
- KOREA TO INVITE WORLD-FAMOUS R&D INSTITUTES
The Ministry of Science and Technology announced yesterday that it has decided to attract world-renowned research and development institutes into Korea to cooperate in the development of cutting-edge technologies.
The sectors targeted by the ministry include nanotechnology, biotechnology, space technology, environmental technology, information technology and artificial intelligence.
The Science Ministry has provisionally selected 70 institutes that specialize in each technology sector. It will form a task force consisting of experts from industry and academia who will make a list of specific research fields and researchers after an in-depth analysis of the candidates.
The government plan is also part of its efforts to boost the development, through international cooperation, of the 99 core technologies that it has designated as important to the country. These technologies were included in the national technology road map set up last year.
Source : Korea Herald - 09/08/2003
- UNIONS SET NEW ROUND OF STRIKES IN KOREA
Workers at Kia Motors and LG-Caltex Oil of South Korea have announced plans for partial strikes this week after Hyundai Motor gave in to union demands for a shorter workweek and more pay.
Workers at Kia, the country's second-largest automaker, walked off the job for four hours on Friday and staged an eight-hour strike on Saturday. Workers at LG-Caltex, South Korea's second-largest refiner, voted to stage the first strike by oil workers in the nation's history. They are seeking to pare their workweek to five days from six.
Hyundai last week agreed to adopt a 40-hour week starting in September and an 8.6 percent increase in base salary, job security and other conditions to end a six-week strike.
"Kia will inevitably match it with Hyundai Motor," said Cho Yong Joon, an analyst at Daewoo Securities. "We are seeing not only more militant unions posturing for better deals, but companies such as LG-Caltex have workers who want more."
Workers at Kia Motor plan to stop work for two hours during the day and the night shifts on Monday and Tuesday, the Yonhap news agency reported Saturday. On Wednesday and Thursday, the stoppages will double to four hours each shift. Union workers will also refuse to work overtime, the report said.
Unions are flexing their muscles again after years in a government-led "shared-sacrifice" policy with business after the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis sent the country into recession. The confrontation comes as companies cope with slowing growth and unions worry about job losses created by industry consolidation, such as Shinhan Financial Group's takeover of Chohung Bank last month.
The Korea Employers' Federation, the Korea Confederation of Trade Unions and the Federation of Korea Trade Unions began talks Friday on adopting the five-day workweek throughout South Korean industry.
But some economists expressed concern that the changes to work rules could slow the pace of economic growth and investment in a country that slipped into recession in the second quarter.
"This five-day workweek plan with no wage cut is one of the biggest threats to the Korean economy," said Lim Jiwon, an economist with J.P. Morgan Chase.
South Korea's hourly wages have increased 10.4 percent on average in the past three years, while wages in Taiwan and Japan have remained flat, Lim said.
At the same time, productivity is deteriorating. Growth in productivity, a measure of how much an employee produces per hour, slowed to 3 percent in the first quarter, compared with 9.5 percent a year earlier, according to the commerce ministry.
Yoolim Lee, Young-Sam Cho - Source : International Herald Tribune - 11/08/2003
- FDI SHOULD FOCUS ON FUNDAMENTALS
With increasing attention being drawn to the continuing trend of falling foreign direct investment in Korea, President Roh Moo-hyun recently instructed relevant ministries to focus on devising ways to ensure robust foreign capital inflows. Such emphasis placed on FDI attraction by the head of state is indeed an encouraging sign, particularly since some observers (this author included) expected a drop-off in the momentum created by former President Kim Dae-jung with regards to swinging Korea's doors wide open to foreign capital. Of course there are a host of external factors that have had a suppressing effect on foreign capital inflows to Korea, and to the region in general, including the SARS scare and North Korea's brazen saber-rattling antics of late. But in my view, a complete conceptual change in Korea's internal approach to FDI attraction must first take place if we expect to set the economy back on track to attract steady FDI inflows.
One worrisome aspect of Korea's ongoing FDI inducement efforts is the seemingly excessive emphasis placed on incentives rather than focusing on the fundamentals: market factors, core competencies and industrial competitiveness. If one takes a look at China, even with an arguably much more complicated and bureaucratic FDI system than Korea, FDI has skyrocketed. Hence, above all else, it should be clear that the market dictates the final outcome of the game.
For starters, the highly touted free economic zone system seems eerily akin to luring a child into a candy store, and many foreign business executives have expressed their desire to work and live amongst their Korean hosts in central locations such as Seoul, regardless of what enticements are offered. Even the European Chamber of Commerce in Korea has gone on record opposing the system, and although the legislation is already in effect, no foreign companies seem to be lining up to enter such zones.
Another proposed incentive recently announced by the government is the cash grant system, in which investors in certain designated industries would be refunded a portion of their investment. But have policymakers even conducted a thorough financial forecast into the expected economic burden of this system? Does the national budget allow for it? Or is this just another shortsighted policy measure solely derived from imitating more advanced countries that are in entirely dissimilar situations?
And what about the proposed investment introduction reward system, which would give a percentage of the invested amount as a reward to the parties that introduced major investments? Although this may seem like a logically sound, performance-based strategy to induce FDI, what about transparency issues such as how exactly do authorities plan to verify such parties as legitimate and at what stage of involvement would they be entitled to a reward?
If the answers to questions such as these have yet to be thoroughly thought out, then such proposed policies should not be made public, since the government inevitably runs the risk of appearing to be merely dishing out lip service if the policies never come to fruition. Many of these incentives and proposed policies aimed at FDI attraction are in response to what FDI-competing nations such as Singapore and Hong Kong (or even Ireland and England for that matter) are doing. But we must remain wary that none of these countries/city-states can be uniformly compared to Korea.
Of course it is necessary to provide a certain level of invectives that is on par with the competition, but trying to outgun your competitor in such a fashion can be an overly myopic or even dangerous approach. For example, we must also be careful of avoiding harmful tax competition as set out by OECD rules.
So perhaps it is time to focus in earnest on what really matters to foreigners at the end of the day - market competitiveness, nondiscrimination, transparency and, most of all, the rule of law. Empirical research has found that financial incentives have little bearing on investment decisions if the aforementioned crucial factors are not provided. Likewise, many foreign investors in Korea have expressed that improving living conditions is a secondary concern, since comfort and convenience can in no way substitute rudimentary requisites such as lawful business practices that uphold profitable business activities.
Of course no prospective investor will refuse additional incentives, but placing the provision of incentives at the focal point of the country's FDI policy may not be in the best interests of the country's long-term economic interests.
The writer is the communications coordinator at the Office of the Investment Ombudsman. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org. - Ed. - Source : Korea Herald - 01/08/2003
- MEASURES TO ATTRACT FOREIGN TALENT
The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy said yesterday that it had extended income tax exemptions for foreign workers for another three years to 2006.
The ministry also plans to establish an "international cooperation center for industrial technology" under the Korea Industrial Technology Foundation to provide general support to skilled foreign workers.
Meanwhile, the government has expanded its foreign workers "Gold Card System" to include biotechnology, nano-technology and digital technology to attract more overseas talent to Korea's information technology sector.
The system, which was first introduced in November 2000, provides benefits to skilled foreign workers, such as long-term transferable visas and a social safety net.
Source : Joong Ang Daily - 07/08/03
- KOREA TO SEE HOT M&A YEAR
Mergers and acquisitions are the hot topic of the moment in Korea's financial sector.
In the first six months of the year, there were 211 deals announced or completed with a combined value of approximately 11.4 trillion won ($9.5 billion), up from 175 deals worth around 7.7 trillion won in the first half of last year, according to data kept by Bloomberg.
And it looks like Korea is going to see more big deals in the remainder of the year, according to a report released this week by Citigroup Smith Barney.
"We believe M&A could be the top theme for the Korean equity market this year and could result in a valuation upgrade for the entire Kospi in the next 12 months," said Citigroup.
The M&A sector is already buzzing with the sale of the Korea Exchange Bank. The government has chosen Lone Star Funds, a U.S. investment fund, as the preferred bidder to which it will likely sell part of or all of its controlling stake in the bank.
Other analysts are keenly looking at Koram Bank as another potential candidate for an M&A deal this year. Just Wednesday, Standard Chartered Plc, a U.K.-based bank, announced it will buy a 9.8 percent stake in the sixth-largest domestic bank for 185 billion won.
In its report, Citigroup drafted a list of nonfinancial and financial companies that it sees as most attractive for an M&A deal, after looking at factors such as high cash and low major shareholder ownership.
Among the nonfinancial companies that Citigroup found particularly interesting were Ssangyong Motor, Hyundai Industrial Development and Construction, Daewoo Motor, Daelim Industry, and Daewoo Engineering and Construction.
Meanwhile, in the financial sector, Citigroup cited as particularly attractive Hana Bank, LG Card, Koram Bank, Pusan Bank, and Daegu Bank.
"We have already seen several M&As in the sector in the process of privatization and consolidation, and we expect this trend to continue," said the report.
The increase in M&A transactions seen in Korea this year has also happened throughout Asia. According to a recent study by JP Morgan based on Thomson Financial figures, merger and acquisitions in Asia rose 6 percent to $106 billion in the first half of the year from the same period in 2002, making up a record 20 percent of global transactions during that period of time.
The strength of the M&A market in Asia contrasts with the 10 percent decline in transactions in the rest of the world during the first half of 2003, marking three years in which the number of deals has been declining.
Korea accounted for 8 percent of the M&A transactions in the region the first six months of 2003, making it the third most important player in Asia in this field, said the report. Japan accounted for the bulk of deals with a 43 percent share, followed by Australia with a 15 percent share.
Last year, Korea garnered a fourth position with an 11 percent share of M&A deals in Asia. But at the pace in which deals are being announced, Korea is likely to increase its share of transactions in the region.
Daniel Yoo, head of Korean strategy and financial research at Citigroup Smith Barney, said that the strength in M&A activities in the region was a result of the positive valuations of Asian companies.
"The cash flows versus the market capitalizations of companies in Asia and the dividend yields of Asian companies are increasing substantially," he said.
The M&A activity in Korea was dominated by two domestic super deals that accounted for around 50 percent of the total volume. The government's sale of its 80 percent in Chohung Bank to the Shinhan Financial Group in early July was Asia's largest announced transaction in the region outside Japan and Australia, with a value of 3.2 trillion won ($2.9 billion), JP Morgan said. The deal created the second-largest bank in Korea after Kookmin Bank.
The second-largest transaction was the purchase of Hyundai Petrochemical by a partnership between Honam Petrochemical Co. and LG Chem in late January. The deal, valued at 1.8 trillion won, created Asia's biggest maker of ethylene and other petrochemical products and was also among the 10 largest deals signed in Asia.
There have also been a plethora of deals among Korean and foreign companies in the first half of the year, which doesn't surprise Yoo.
"When we run our analyses, more than 50 percent of companies within Asia have the right kind of level of valuations," said Yoo, the author of Citigroup's report, said. "Therefore, more advanced countries with companies that have more expensive valuations look into Asia because it's difficult to get organic growth within their economies."
Among the deals between foreign and domestic companies, Prudential Financial Inc., one of the biggest life insurers in the U.S., agreed to buy asset managers Hyundai Investment and Securities Co. and Hyundai Investment Trust Management Co. last March for around 480 billion won.
Some deals also go in the reverse direction. For example, Woori Finance Holdings, the owner of Woori Bank, gained approval last week from the U.S. Federal Reserve to purchase Panasia Bank for $34.5 million as it attempts to increase its reach among ethnic Koreans living in the U.S. Panasia has earned a reputation for its services to Korean Americans, and is based in Fort Lee, New Jersey, which has a large ethnic Korean population.
Source : Korea Herald - 08/08/2003
- BRITISH BANK BUYS SAMSUNG'S KORAM STAKE
The Samsung group has sold off its shares in KorAm bank to the British bank Standard Chartered, which has emerged as the second-largest shareholder in KorAm, jettisoning Samsung's investment in the nation's banking sector.
Samsung Life Insurance, an insurance unit of the Samsung group, sold off on Wednesday its 12.35 million shares, amounting to a 6.08 percent stake in KorAm, to Standard Chartered at a per-share value of W9,300.
Other Samsung subsidiaries have held stakes in the Korean bank, but the ratio of the stake held by the group has now fallen below 1 percent.
The British bank said Wednesday that it acquired a 9.76 percent stake in KorAm for US$154 million in cash.
The largest shareholder of the Korean bank is still the Carlyle Fund, of the United States, which holds a 17.9 percent stake.
by Chae Woo-seok (email@example.com)
Source : The Chosun Ilbo - 06/08/03
- SOUTH KOREAN INSTITUTE SEEKS TECHNOLOGY PARTNERS
THE Korea Electronics Technology Institute (KETI) will be meeting officials from Mimos Bhd, Multimedia Development Corp, Telekom Malaysia Bhd and local research institutions tomorrow to explore the possibility of technology transfers.
This was particularly in the areas of wireless, multimedia, photonics and fibre optics, KETI president Kim Choon-Ho said.
He said the initial meeting with Mimos would, among other things, be on exchanges of researchers, possible commercialisation of biotechnology and collaboration on research findings.
"At the moment, discussions are at the infant stage.
"We hope that by the end of this year, we will have solid materials and discussions going," he told a press conference in Kuala Lumpur yesterday after a seminar on South Korean-Malaysian business partnership in the electronics sector.
Kim said KETI was also in the final stages of drafting a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Universiti Malaya (UM) and expected to seal it in a month.
He added that the MoU would allow KETI to tap UM's photonics facilities.
KETI is the technology arm of the South Korean Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy. It is involved in research and development of technology for commercialisation purposes.
South Korean investments in the electrical and electronics sector has been relatively small.
According to Malaysian Industrial Development Authority, from 1998 until June this year, 29 projects with South Korean interests involving capital investments of RM655mil were approved.
Within the information communication technology sub-sector, four projects involving RM310mil in investments were approved.
The approvals were for activities such as the production of colour television receivers, colour monitors and computer panel assembly.
Source : The Star Online - 05/08/2003
- KOREA TO ASK INTEL TO SET UP R&D CENTER
The South Korean government will ask U.S.-based chip giant Intel Corp. to consider finalizing a major investment project that might include the establishment of either a research center or a chip factory in Korea, informed sources said yesterday.
Intel Chief Executive Officer Craig Barrett visits Korea today and is set to hold a meeting with President Roh Moo-hyun, government officials said yesterday.
Intel Korea said no formal press conference is scheduled as Barrett's visit to Korea is part of his regular Asian tour and he does not have any new announcements to make.
But people familiar with the matter said Barrett is likely to discuss the possibility of investment in Korea and clarify his position in a meeting with the president, who is now coming under pressure in connection with the sluggish economy and a dearth of new foreign direct investment.
Korea's FDI has been faltering markedly, which some people blame on labor unrest and a surge in labor costs. The public is now looking to the president to reverse the downward FDI trend that started in 1999.
Local media reported yesterday that Intel might set up a research and development center in Seoul, adding that the candidate site is the IT complex in Sangam-dong.
But Ministry of Information and Communication spokesman Koh Kwang-sup denied the report, saying, "Nothing has been decided yet."
He stated, however, that Intel is unlikely to set up a research center in the Sangam IT complex, which will be completed in 2007.
Barrett will also meet with Information and Communication Minister Chin Dae-je during his two-day visit, Koh confirmed, but added that what will be discussed in the meeting "remains unknown."
The speculation that Barrett and Korea's top policymakers will discuss an investment deal and produce some tangible results has been mushrooming, as Intel's top executive announced a series of investment plans on other legs of his Asian tour.
Barrett revealed Tuesday that Intel plans to spend $375 million to build a new assembly and test plant in western China that is slated to begin operations in 2005 or 2006. In addition, Intel also announced it would invest 152 million ringgit ($40 million) to boost its manufacturing capacity in Malaysia.
Monday, Barrett unveiled a plan to set up the Intel Innovation Center in Taiwan, which will concentrate on the research and development of telecommunications and networking products.
Although Intel and Korean government officials have tried not to comment on the investment negotiations, new facts might emerge tomorrow as Intel Korea confirmed yesterday that three Korean media outlets have been granted an exclusive group interview with Barrett Friday.
In late May when President Roh visited the United States for a summit, Barrett told Korean government officials that the world's largest computer chipmaker had no plan to set up a production facility in Korea.
At the time, Barrett's comment dealt a blow to the Korean government, as it has been keen to attract a massive investment from Intel. In fact, Korea was in talks with Intel for a major investment here, which had been kept secret until mid-April when Minister of Commerce, Industry and Energy Yoon Jin-shik revealed, in an exclusive interview with The Korea Herald, that Intel had been calling for a cash grant from foreign countries, including Korea, before it would embark on building its factories overseas.
The commerce minister went on to say in that interview that if Seoul successfully brought in Intel's 300-millimeter wafer factories, the Korean government would offer $1 billion to $2 billion in cash to Intel.
(firstname.lastname@example.org) By Yang Sung-jin - Source : Korea Herald - 28/08/03
- S. KOREA CHALLENGES EU CHIP TAX
GENEVA - South Korea is set to challenge the European Union over duties it has imposed on imports of computer memory chips, the World Trade Organization said Tuesday.
WTO officials said South Korea, which claims the duties breach global trade rules, made a formal request for consultations with the EU. Such a move is usually the first step to a full-blown legal dispute at the global trade body.
In April, the EU imposed a provisional 33 per cent tax on imports of computer memory chips made by Hynix Semiconductor Inc., accusing the South Korean firm of receiving illegal government subsidies. Hynix is the world's third-largest chip maker behind U.S.-based industry leader Micron Technology Inc. and South Korea's Samsung Electronics Co.
WTO members are allowed to take so-called "countervailing measures" if they believe other members are breaking the rules. But they run the risk of seeing their actions challenged before the WTO's dispute settlement tribunal.
The EU Commission initially said the provisional duty would be in force for four months. A formal decision on whether to extend the tax for five years is expected on Aug. 25, but 13 of the 15 EU governments are believed to back continuing the duties.
European governments are retaliating against restructuring loans and debt-for-equity swaps made by South Korea's state-controlled banks to Hynix. The tariffs affect millions of dollars in chip exports and deal another heavy blow to Hynix, already suffering from consecutive years of losses and heavy debt.
The EU action foreshadowed a similar move by the United States, which in June imposed a 44.71 per cent import tariffs on chips made by Hynix. South Korean authorities said they planned to file a dispute with the WTO over the U.S. duty.
Dynamic random access memory, or DRAM, chips are South Korea's biggest export item; the country exported $5.97 billion worth of DRAM chips last year. The chips cost about $4 to produce, but overproduction has forced prices below that level.
Source : Associated Press - 05/08/03
- CREDIT-CARD SPENDING SLIPS IN 2ND QUARTER
Koreans' credit-card spending shrank for the second straight quarter during the three months to June, as the continued uncertainty about an economic recovery continued to sap domestic consumption, officials and industry sources said yesterday.
Cardholders of nine domestic card-only companies spent an estimated 121 trillion won ($102 billion) on credit during the April-to-June period, down 23.9 percent from the previous quarter. On a year-on-year basis, the figure marked a 28.4 percent drop, according to officials at the Financial Supervisory Commission and card companies.
Koreans' card usage, which rapidly increased over the course of last year, turned south in the first quarter, as card issuers lowered credit ceilings for customers amid rising delinquencies. The total amount charged rose from 155.17 trillion won in the first quarter of 2002 to 189.52 trillion won in the final quarter of the year. But it sank to 158.95 trillion won during the first three months of this year.
Second-quarter card spending totaled 32 trillion won at BC Card, down 8.6 percent quarter-on-quarter, and 18.55 trillion won at Kookmin Credit Card, down 5.2 percent.
The supervisory panel estimated that most other card issuers, including LG Card, the nation's largest, also saw clients charge less on their plastic, although exact figures have yet to come out. Industry watchers said the continued fall in credit-card spending is attributable to reduced credit ceilings, increased card fees and tightened criteria for card issuance.
"Above all, however, dampened spirits among consumers on a range of economic uncertainties both at home and abroad plus still-heavy household debt burdens seem to have made people rein in their credit purchases further," an analyst explained.
(email@example.com) - Source : Korea Herald - 11/08/2003
- KIA MOTORS VEUT OUVRIR UNE NOUVELLE USINE EN CHINE
Kia Motors, deuxième constructeur automobile sud-coréen derrière Hyundai, prévoit d'ouvrir en Chine une nouvelle usine qui, avec une capacité de 400.000 véhicules par an, lui permettrait d'augmenter fortement sa production sur le marché chinois, qui est en plein essor. " 400.000 unités par an d'ici à 2005, c'est ce qui est prévu " , a déclaré à l'agence Reuters Wang Liping, responsable de la planification chez Dongfeng Yueda Kia Automotive Co. : " Nous tenons à suivre la tendance à la hausse des constructeurs chinois. " Kia Motors produit déjà des automobiles en Chine dans le cadre d'une société commune avec Dongfeng Motors et Jiangsu Yuedo Investment. L'usine actuelle, à Yancheng près de Shanghai, prévoit d'assembler 50.000 voitures cette année et le double l'an prochain, selon Wang. Le marché automobile chinois est en plein boom avec déjà 842.800 voitures vendues sur les six premiers mois de l'année, soit +82 % en un an.
Source : Les Echos - 12/08/2003
- KIA MOTORS AMELIORE LEGEREMENT SON BENEFICE AU DEUXIEME TRIMESTRE
Kia Motors, deuxième constructeur automobile sud-coréen, a annoncé une progression de 3,4 % de son bénéfice net au deuxième trimestre à la faveur d'une hausse des exportations de ses 4 × 4 de loisirs. Le groupe a fait état d'un résultat de 186,4 milliards de wons (140 millions d'euros) pour les trois mois achevés au 30 juin. Le chiffre d'affaires a atteint 3.600 milliards de wons. Kia, malgré la crise économique en Corée, récolte ainsi les fruits de sa politique visant à passer d'une production de modèles compacts bon marché à des produits à plus forte marge comme le 4 × 4 Sorento ou la berline Opirus. Kia espère prendre 1 % du marché automobile européen grâce au renforcement de l'euro qui favorise les ventes (0,8 % actuellement).
Source : Les Echos - 14/08/2003
- KIA MOTORS IGNITES ITS STRATEGIES TO ENTER OVERSEAS MARKETS
Kia Motors is putting together a plan to enter overseas markets as its export to Europe and China have been picking up rapidly. The company is building large-scale production lines overseas. Production capacity at of local factories under construction in Europe and China is between 450,000 to 550,000 units per year, which is nearly half of the current annual capacity of 1 million units.
At an investors' conference held yesterday at the Korea Stock Exchange in Yeouido, Seoul, Gu Tae-hwan, Vice President of Kia`s corporate finance, said, "Kia Motors will take the place of Hyundai Motors Company in building production lines in European countries," and added, "We are seeking proper factory sites in Eastern Europe, such as the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and planning to select the best possible site by the year-end so that construction can begin in the second half of next year."
"Production capacity of European factories will be between 200,000 to 300,00 units each year," said Vice President Gu, adding, "Which models will be produced and who among Kia and Hyundai will sell the vehicles is yet to be determined." This implies that there still are many variables at play, such as only Hyundai car models can be produced or Hyundai and Kia can pursue joint investment in the plan.
Kia Motors plans to expand the output capacity of its Chinese factory by 250,000 units. The production capacity at its factory in Yenchung, Jangsui Province, China, will be increased by 100,000 units by 2006, while a secondary production line will be set up in the same province with an annual output capacity of 200,000 units.
"Building a factory in Europe that can produce 300,000 units per year will require 1 trillion won," said Sejong Securities Analyst Yong Dae-in. He went on to say, "Whether Kia can raise this amount of capital is still very much in doubt."
Kia Motor Company announced yesterday that car sales for the fist half of this year increased 4.3% to 437,000 units compared with the same period last year, which is attributable to rising exports. As a result, Kia`s revenue for the first half of this year reached 6.4182 trillion won, a 13.6% increase. The automaker`s operating income and net income posted in at 351.9 billion and 328.0 billion won, respectively, which is an increase of 14.8% and 17.4% year-on-year, respectively.
Yet obstacles remain, as a possible production disruption lie ahead because the labor union at Kia is demanding "an agreement in advance between unionists from both Hyundai and Kia in developing new car models." The labor union made the demand at the eighth negotiation meeting with management yesterday. Daewoo Securities Analyst Cho Yong-jun said, "Kia Motors is concentrating on Chinese markets where its car sales are picking up," adding, "If Kia, like Hyundai, allows its unionists to intervene in the procedure of moving factories offshore, it would be a significant constraint on Kia in its bid to enter foreign car markets."
Source : The Dong-A Ilbo - 12/08/2003
- LG GROUP'S BID FOR HANARO FAILS
Samsung and SK Telecom fight off share issue plan
LG Group¡¯s attempt to expand its control of Hanaro Telecom Inc. fell through yesterday in the face of opposition from its rivals in the telecommunications market, Samsung Electronics Co. and SK Telecom Co.
Hanaro, the second largest high-speed Internet service provider in Korea, held an extraordinary shareholders meeting in Ilsan, northwest of Seoul, in which its shareholders rejected a new share sale plan proposed by LG Group.
LG is the largest shareholder in Hanaro with a 13 percent stake. Samsung Group is the second largest, controlling about 8.5 percent through its subsidiaries such as Samsung Electronics. SK Group is the third largest with a 5.5 percent stake.
LG put to vote a plan to issue 200 million new shares, which have a face value of 5,000 won ($4.20), at 2,500 won, aiming to raise 500 billion won in total for the financially distressed Hanaro.
The plan earned only 62 percent support, falling short of the necessary 67 percent. Of the total 279 million floated shares of Hanaro, 72 percent, or 233 million shares, took part in the vote.
LG Group and Daewoo Securities Co., the fourth largest shareholder, supported the plan, while Samsung Electronics and SK Telecom opposed it.
¡°We opposed the plan because the price of the shares, 2,500 won, was lower than what the consortium led by American International Group proposed, 3,100 won per share,¡± said an official from SK Telecom.
The SK official was referring to Hanaro¡¯s effort since last year to attract foreign capital, which folded at the last minute due to opposition from LG Group.
Because it is not considered financially profitable to buy Hanaro¡¯s shares at 2,500 won at this point, industry observers believe there would be many forfeited shares if Hanaro shareholders were offered new rights. LG hopes to snap up those forfeited shares to get a grip on Hanaro, which its rivals, such as SK and Samsung, are not willing to let happen.
With its new share sale plan folded, LG has met an obstacle in its long-term strategy of adding Hanaro Telecom to its other telecom units, LG TeleCom Ltd. and Dacom Corp., and growing telecommunications as its core business strength.
It could also have been a way for Hanaro to raise desperately needed capital.
Hanaro has to pay back a total of 390 billion won by the end of this year. The company has pooled about 200 billion won in liquidity.
The firm in the first half of the year generated 11.6 billion won in operating profits. But it had to pay 71.2 billion won in interest, thus posting 67.4 billion won in net loss.
At the shareholders meeting, Yoon Chang-bun, former president of the Korea Information Strategy Development Institute, was appointed the new president of Hanaro.
¡°We will pursue attracting foreign capital again, and to address the immediate financial difficulties, we will closely discuss with financial institutions, such as our main creditor bank Korea Development Bank, pooling emergency capital of 300 billion won,¡± Mr. Yoon said in his inaugural address, delivered in the afternoon.
LG had showed determination to push ahead with the new share issuance plan.
¡°If the plan to issue new shares fails, I will propose to the group that we give up the telecommunications business, and I will step down as well,¡± Jung Hong-shik, president of LG Group¡¯s group-wide telecommunications business, had told reporters on July 31.
But when asked about whether Mr. Jung would act on his previous pledges, LG said, ¡°It is just that Mr. Jung showed a strong will to carry out the issuance of new shares. There is still room for issuing new shares with new methods.¡±
Instead of backing off from the telecommunications business, LG is now busy brooding over its next tactics.
¡°We are considering drawing up another rights offering plan to put to a shareholders vote,¡± an official from LG said.
¡°We do not believe that our plan to issue new shares is completely botched,¡± the official said. ¡°We will take some time and draw up new measures, such as laying out new plans to issue new shares.¡±
But the official added, ¡°We have yet to consider anything in concrete.¡±
LG expressed regret that Samsung and SK did not cooperate, despite its requests to do so until the morning before the shareholders meeting.
¡°The consortium led by AIG is still willing to invest, and promised to pay at least 3,100 won per share,¡± said Kim Shin-bae, an executive from SK Telecom.
¡°We will put a foreign capital attraction plan to a vote again,¡± Mr. Kim said.
With the plan to boost capital through rights offering falling apart, related issues headed south.
Hanaro Telecom plunged 4.2 percent to end at 2,750 won. Dacom fell 2.5 percent, and LG Telecom lost 1.8 percent.
by Kim Hyo-jin <firstname.lastname@example.org> - Source : Joong Ang Daily - 06/08/03
- HYUNDAI MOTOR AGREES TO 5-DAY WORKWEEK
Hyundai Motor Co.¡¯s management and labor union agreed on some hotly-debated issues such as allowing the labor union to have a say in management decisions. They also tentatively concurred on wage increases and the adoption of a five-day workweek.
The two sides agreed to form a committee of union and management for a decision in adopting new technologies and transferring production facilities and that the union would be notified 90 days prior to new vehicle productions and to shifting production abroad.
They also agreed to introduce a five-day workweek in October and a wage increase of 98,000 won ($82) per month, a performance-based incentive worth two months of wages, a one-month regular bonus and 1 million won in immediate incentives.
With these accords, Hyundai Motor was able to avoid the government¡¯s emergency binding arbitration by ending strikes that have been going on nearly 47 days.
Business leaders reacted warily to the idea of labor-management power-sharing at Hyundai.
¡°Workers¡¯ participation in management is not an advanced model of labor-management relations but a barrier to responding quickly to rapid changes in the business environment,¡± said Lee Seung-cheol, a senior official at the Federation of Korean Industries. ¡°The business community will need to prevent the decision from becoming a precedent for other companies.¡±
¡°Although dialogue between management and union is necessary, demanding a review and approval of a union is an intrusion on management right,¡± said Lee Dong-eung, a senior official at the Korea Employers Federation.
¡°Cooperation of labor and management is different from a union¡¯s participation in management,¡± another businessman said. ¡°I fear that business efficiency will be further eroded because of union participation in management in a slow economy.¡±
Hyundai, however, played down the agreement. ¡°Both the union and management took a step back and decided on a limited involvement of the union in the case of adjusting the work force,¡± an official said.
Hyundai¡¯s management agreed to extending the employment age limit by one year, but rejected the union¡¯s request for a seat on the board.
by Lee Weon-ho <email@example.com> - Source : Joong Ang Daily - 06/08/03
- APRES UNE GREVE HISTORIQUE, LES SYNDICATS DE HYUNDAI MOTOR OBTIENNENT SATISFACTION
Les salariés du conglomérat sud-coréen vont bénéficier de la mise en place de la semaine de cinq jours et de 8,6 % de hausse de salaire.
Tokyo de notre correspondant
Après cinq semaines de grève dans ses usines, Hyundai Motor a conclu, mercredi 6 août, un accord avec le syndicat du groupe, qui rassemble 80 % de ses 50 000 salariés, donnant satisfaction à la majeure partie des revendications des grévistes. La Corée du Sud n'avait pas connu de conflit social aussi important depuis les grèves générales de 1998, provoquées par la crise financière qu'a connue le pays.
Craignant pour la croissance de l'économie, le gouvernement avait menacé, il y a quelques jours, de mettre en place une médiation forcée, obligeant les salariés à reprendre le travail, si les deux parties ne parvenaient pas à s'entendre avant le 5 août. L'annonce, lundi 4 août, du suicide de Chung Mong-hun, ancien dirigeant du conglomérat et frère de l'actuel président de Hyundai Motor, a pu également entrer en ligne de compte, en faisant peser des incertitudes sur l'avenir d'autres entités du groupe.
PROJET DE LOI
La grève, dont le coût est estimé par le constructeur à 1,15 milliard d'euros, était la plus importante de celles organisées tout au long du mois de juillet par les principaux syndicats de l'industrie pour protester contre l'examen à l'Assemblée d'un projet de loi sur la semaine de cinq jours.
Longtemps retardée, la loi, qui comporte un délai d'application de dix ans, est critiquée pour les concessions qu'elle exige des travailleurs et pour les privilèges qu'elle accorde aux salariés des grands groupes par rapport à ceux des PME. La victoire remportée par les salariés de Hyundai pourrait faire école : "Nous avons obtenu la mise en place immédiate de la semaine en cinq jours, c'est une première et cela va avoir un impact sur toutes les autres entreprises, car les autres syndicats attendaient de voir ce qui allait se passer", explique Kim Joo-hee, du secrétariat international de la Korean Metal Workers Federation, la fédération à laquelle est affilié le syndicat de Hyundai.
Les salariés du premier constructeur automobile coréen ont obtenu 8,6 % d'augmentation de salaire (ils demandaient 11 %), un doublement de leurs primes, une indexation sur la productivité et la retraite à 57 ans. Le syndicat se félicite surtout d'avoir décroché un droit de consultation inédit : "En 1998, à la suite de la crise du FMI, les employeurs avaient fait valoir le droit au licenciement économique, ce qui avait conduit à des conflits très violents. Nous avons obtenu que, désormais, il n'y ait aucun licenciement de ce type sans consultation des syndicats", ajoute Mme Kim.
DES CONCESSIONS MUTUELLES
Pour préserver l'emploi, alors que la hausse des salaires rend désormais la Corée du Sud de moins en moins compétitive par rapport à des pays comme la Chine, les syndicats ont également obtenu d'être consultés sur tout transfert de production vers l'étranger. Chez Hyundai Motor, on maintient que les concessions sont mutuelles : "Les syndicats ont renoncé à demander à siéger au conseil d'administration, ce qui était notre première préoccupation", déclare Jake Jang, un porte-parole du groupe. La grève est intervenue à un moment où le marché automobile coréen était dopé par un assouplissement sur la fiscalité, se traduisant par une baisse d'environ 6 % des prix des véhicules. Or, en juillet, Hyundai a vu ses ventes domestiques baisser de 42 % par rapport à 2002, alors qu'elles ont augmenté de 35 % pour Kia Motors (numéro deux coréen et filiale de Hyundai).
Tandis que Hyundai continue sa percée sur le marché américain, la grève a bloqué, selon le porte-parole du groupe, l'exportation de 68 000 véhicules vers l'étranger, et a conduit à l'arrêt de ses usines d'assemblage en Egypte, en Russie, en Malaisie et au Pakistan, en raison d'une pénurie de pièces. Le titre a toutefois été épargné en Bourse : il a gagné 65 % depuis son plus bas niveau en mars et a réalisé sur les mois de juin et juillet un gain de 17 %, supérieur à celui de l'indice Kospi de la Bourse de Séoul.
Selon M. Jang, le groupe compte rattraper le retard pris dans la production d'ici à trois mois en demandant aux salariés de faire des heures supplémentaires et de travailler pendant les vacances. "La paie est plus élevée, donc ils sont toujours d'accord", signale M. Jang.
Brice Pedroletti - Source : Le Monde - 07/08/03
- BENEFICES RECORDS POUR HYUNDAI GRACE AUX EXPORTATIONS
Les exportations du constructeur automobile sud-coréen ont compensé la faible demande du marché local
Résultats records pour le premier constructeur automobile sud-coréen : Hyundai Motor a vu son bénéfice net bondir de 86% au deuxième trimestre, à 570,4 milliards de wons (483 millions de dollars). C'est nettement plus que ce qu'attendaient les analystes, dont la prévision moyenne était d'un bénéfice net de 454 milliards de wons. Le chiffre d'affaires s'est élevé à 6.580 milliards de wons, en hausse de 6% sur un an. Alors que les ventes en Corée du Sud ont chuté de 11% à 342.914 véhicules, conséquence de la récession qui a frappé le pays pour la première fois depuis cinq ans, celles à l'exportation ont bondi de 30% à 627.728 unités. " Les exportations vers les marchés étrangers ont été spectaculaires grâce à la hausse des ventes de voitures à forte valeur ajoutée comme la berline XG et le véhicule tout terrain Santa Fe, ce qui a permis de compenser une stagnation de la demande sur le marché local " , a expliqué Hyundai.
Sur l'ensemble du premier semestre, le bénéfice net a progressé de 10,6%, à 988,5 milliards de wons (838 millions de dollars), soit le profit le plus élevé jamais atteint par la compagnie. Dans le même temps, le résultat opérationnel a bondi de 41,6% à 1.260 milliards de wons sur un chiffre d'affaires en hausse de 10,2% à 12.670 milliards. Pour le deuxième semestre, le groupe détenu à 10% par DaimlerChrysler table sur une hausse de son bénéfice net grâce à une reprise de la consommation en Corée du Sud.
Source : Les Echos - 11/08/2003
- HYUNDAI ENREGISTRE UN BENEFICE RECORD AU PREMIER SEMESTRE
La forte appréciation de l'euro a permis au premier constructeur sud-coréen de doper les exportations et de compenser la faiblesse de son marché intérieur.
Hyundai Motor, le premier constructeur automobile sud-coréen, a annoncé hier une hausse de 10,6 % à 988,5 milliards de wons (743 millions d'euros) de son bénéfice net au premier semestre 2003, soit un niveau record. Dans le même temps, le chiffre d'affaires a progressé de 10,2 % à 12.670 milliards de wons (9,5 milliards d'euros) par rapport aux six premiers mois de 2002, essentiellement grâce à des exportations dynamiques. Le résultat opérationnel a bondi de 41,6 % à 1.260 milliards de wons. Hyundai et sa filiale Kia Motors contrôlent 70 % du marché de l'automobile en Corée du Sud. Au deuxième trimestre (avril à juin), le constructeur, détenu à hauteur de 10 % par DaimlerChrysler, a réalisé un bénéfice net de 570,4 milliards de wons, contre 307 milliards de wons sur la même période de l'an dernier. Si les résultats financiers surpassent les prévisions des analystes, ceux-ci s'attendaient en revanche à un chiffre d'affaires plus élevé au cours des derniers mois.
L'industrie automobile sud-coréenne a été affectée cette année par une demande faible et un ralentissement économique sur le marché intérieur. Hyundai table néanmoins sur une hausse de son bénéfice net sur le deuxième semestre, grâce à une reprise attendue de la consommation en Corée du Sud et à de solides exportations vers l'Europe et les Etats-Unis.
Les exportations totales de Hyundai ont progressé de 21,8 % sur le premier semestre avec 494.000 véhicules, alors que les ventes sur le marché intérieur ont chuté de 12,3 %, avec 349.000 véhicules vendus. Les ventes de voitures ont progressé en particulier de 17,7 % vers l'Amérique du Nord, et de 34,5 % en direction de l'Europe (+ 28,9 % sur le seul marché français, soit 10.829 unités en six mois), où la marque a été aidée par la forte appréciation de l'euro et le renouvellement de la gamme.
Hausse des salaires :
La société a précisé que la grève de sept semaines, qui lui a coûté 1.380 milliards de wons (1 milliard d'euros), n'entamerait pas sa croissance. La grève a pris fin la semaine dernière après l'annonce d'une hausse des salaires de 8,6 % et de l'introduction de la semaine de cinq jours à partir de septembre, dans un pays où le travail du samedi est la norme.
Source : Les Echos - 12/08/2003
- HANARO TO SELL 300 BILLION WON OF BONDS TO LG, SAMSUNG, SK TELECOM
Seoul, Aug. 6 (Yonhap) -- Hanaro Telecom Inc. plans to sell 300 billion won (US$253.2 million) of bonds to its three largest shareholders in an apparent effort to solve short-term liquidity problems, according to its top official Wednesday.
"To solve short-term liquidity problems, Hanaro will issue 300 billion won of bonds and consider entering talks to attract foreign investment," said Yoon Chang-bun, president of Hanaro.
Source : YongHap - 06/08/03
- SAMSUNG DENIES POSSIBLE NK INVESTMENT
Samsung Group denied Hyundai Asan president Kim Yoon-kyu's remarks yesterday that Samsung plans to set up an electronics complex in North Korea.
``At present, we are unable to make an investment (in North Korea),¡¯¡¯ a Samsung official said. ``Our basic stance is that we can only study large-scale investment in the North after North Korea completely guarantees investment and allows free communications, passage and use of currency,¡¯¡¯ the official said.
It is difficult for Samsung to enter the North if the preconditions are not met, the official said.
Samsung's immediate response to the Hyundai Asan leader's allegation is apparently intended to block rumors that Samsung or Hyundai Motor might take over inter-Korean projects from financially-strapped Hyundai Asan, a main operator of projects in the communist country.
Earlier in the day, Hyundai Asan president Kim said on an MBC radio program that, ``We (Hyundai) have proposed that (Samsung) build an electronics park at Kaesong.¡¯¡¯ Kim became the leader of Hyundai's projects in North Korea after Hyundai Asan chairman Chung Mong-hun unexpectedly committed suicide a week ago by jumping from his 12th-floor office in Seoul.
Source : Korea times - 11/08/2003
- SAMSUNG VA INVESTIR 260 MILLIONS DE DOLLARS DANS SON USINE CHINOISE DE SUZHOU
Le sud-coréen Samsung Electronics, numéro deux mondial des fabricants de semi-conducteurs, va investir 260 millions de dollars supplémentaires dans son usine chinoise de Suzhou, a rapporté hier l'"Oriental Morning Post ". L'investissement permettra l'ouverture de trois nouvelles lignes de production d'écrans à cristaux liquides, selon le journal, qui a ajouté que Samsung prévoit de fabriquer sur le site 30 % de sa production totale d'écrans. L'usine de Suzhou a été construite en 2002, pour un investissement initial de 538 millions de dollars, et la production a débuté le 22 juillet.
Source : Les Echos - 19/08/03
- RENAULT-SAMSUNG EMERGES AS 3RD LARGEST CARMAKER
Franco-Korean carmaker Renault-Samsung Motors (RSM) has moved into third place in Korea's automobile market, behind Hyundai Motor and Kia Motors, pushing down GM Daewoo Motors and SsangYong Motor into fourth and fifth place, according to industry sources yesterday.
Even with growing competition among local and foreign carmakers in the Korean car market, domestic sales of RSM reached 13,170 units in July, higher than the 11,283 units of GM Daewoo and the 10,362 units of SsangYong Motor.
It is the second time that RSM, which has usually been ranked fourth or fifth in sales in Korea's automobile market, stood third. The last time RSM rose up the ranks of the Korea car market was when GM Daewoo and SsangYong were mired in trouble over a takeover deal and workout program, respectively, in September 2002.
The remarkable performance with only two sedan brands, its SM5 and SM3, is attributed not only to higher consumer demand, but to a shift consumer choice. According to industry watchers, many consumers made a switchover to RSM cars when a month-long strike at Hyundai and Kia interrupted sales.
RSM's flagship sedan, the SM5, became the best-selling model in the local commercial car market last month for the first time this year, with sales of 9,687 units, an 80.8 percent increase over the previous month, pushing Hyundai's New Avante XD down into second place. Hyundai's New Avante XD, which had led car sales for the first six months of the year, struggled with production delays due to strikes.
In line with the sharp sales increase, industry watchers predict that RSM will adopt a more aggressive approach to the local market, including launches of a large luxury sedan by 2004 and a sports utilities vehicle (SUV) by 2005.
``Despite the favorable market conditions following the strike in Hyundai and Kia, given that RSM has been in equal competition with SsangYong and GM Daewoo, RSM's sales performance in July is meaningful and will provide the company with the momentum to take another big stride toward greater growth,'' an industry watcher said.
Source : Korea Times - 03/08/03
- SAMSUNG, ATOFINA LAUNCH CHEMICAL JOINT VENTURE
Samsung General Chemicals Co. and Atofina, the chemical branch of the French Group TotalFinaElf, launched a 50-50 joint venture, called Samsung-Atofina, yesterday. Samsung officials said the new entity is designed to boost competitiveness through a marketing and sales alliance as well as a sound financial structure.
The two companies signed a memorandum of understanding in December. It is the first time that a foreign chemical company has participated in a fully integrated petrochemical joint venture in Korea.
"The joint venture will secure its market leading position through economies of scale in production and sales as well as optimize its business portfolio through the integration of technical expertise and advanced technologies," Paik Seung-chun, a Samsung spokesman, said.
This will enable the joint venture to fortify the already strong position of Samsung General Chemicals in Asia including the Chinese market, he added.
This project will also provide Atofina with a major manufacturing base in Asia and reinforce its marketing position in a rapidly growing market in partnership with a leading regional player.
The combined production capacities of Samsung and Atofina are 3.65 million tons of ethylene, 4.57 million tons of polyolefins and 1.95 million tons of styrene monomer.
The joint venture will be well positioned in regional and global chemical markets with a substantial marketing capacity, in line with global petrochemical industry trends, Paik said.
Source : Korea Times - 04/08/03