World’s top two shipbuilders in deal to merge: Seoul

Year after year, the top three shipbuilders churned out enormous cargo ships, oil tankers and offshore drilling rigs for shipping firms and energy giants around the world. (File/AFP)
Updated 31 January 2019
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World’s top two shipbuilders in deal to merge: Seoul

  • The world’s top three shipbuilders are South Korean, but the industry has been hammered in recent years
  • South Korea’s “Big Three” shipbuilders were once hailed as a major driver of the country’s export-reliant economy

SEOUL: The world’s biggest shipbuilder, South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries, has reached a deal to acquire a majority stake in ailing number two Daewoo from the government, Seoul said Thursday.
The world’s top three shipbuilders are South Korean — Samsung Heavy ranks third — but the industry has been hammered in recent years by overcapacity and plunging ship prices.
Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering has struggled in particular and has repeatedly been bailed out by the government to avoid collapse, at a total cost of several billion dollars.
Hyundai Heavy itself announced net losses of 633 billion won ($569 million) for 2018 on Thursday, blaming higher steel costs and lower demand.
But the state-funded Korea Development Bank (KDB), which owns 55.7 percent of Daewoo, said Hyundai had agreed to take over its stake.
Rather than paying cash, the shipbuilder will split itself in two and issue KDB shares in a new holding company that will own Daewoo and most of Hyundai Heavy’s existing businesses.
The deal would further consolidate Hyundai Heavy’s position as the world’s largest shipbuilder, giving it more than 20 percent of the global market.
It will go through unless Samsung Heavy makes a better offer, KDB officials said, with a final decision expected in March.
South Korea’s “Big Three” shipbuilders were once hailed as a major driver of the country’s export-reliant economy — the world’s 11th largest.
Year after year, they churned out enormous cargo ships, oil tankers and offshore drilling rigs for shipping firms and energy giants around the world.
But a prolonged slump in oil prices and the global economic slowdown sapped demand for tankers and container ships, while overcapacity, regional rivalry and competition from cheaper Chinese shipbuilders squeezed profit margins.
Hyundai Heavy’s 2018 losses represented a significantly worse performance than the previous year, when it was 93.4 billion won in the red.
The shipbuilder said its acquisition of Daewoo was aimed at “boosting the competitive edge of South Korea’s shipbuilding industry by maximizing the synergy effect.”


China bemoans US ‘bullying’ of Huawei

Updated 23 May 2019
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China bemoans US ‘bullying’ of Huawei

  • The trade spat between US and China escalated after President Donald Trump issued orders last week on grounds of national security
  • Trump’s move effectively bans US companies from supplying Huawei and affiliates with critical components

BEIJING: China’s foreign minister has slammed US moves against telecom giant Huawei as “economic bullying,” and warned that Beijing was ready to “fight to the very end” in its trade war with Washington.
The trade spat between the world’s top two economies escalated after President Donald Trump issued orders on grounds of national security last week that have prompted several foreign firms to distance themselves from Huawei.
“The US use of state power to arbitrarily exert pressure on a private Chinese company like Huawei is typical economic bullying,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Wednesday at a meeting in Kyrgyzstan of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a regional security group led by Beijing and Moscow.
Trump’s move effectively bans US companies from supplying Huawei and affiliates with critical components over activities the US says are contrary its national security or foreign policy interests.
Japan’s Panasonic announced on Thursday that it was cutting back business with Huawei in light of the US ban. A day earlier, mobile carriers in Japan and Britain said they would postpone the release of Huawei smartphones.
“Some people in the United States do not want China to enjoy the legitimate right to develop, and seek to impede its development process,” Wang said, according to a foreign ministry statement issued late Wednesday.
“This extremely presumptuous and egocentric American approach is not able to gain the approval and support of the international community.”
The two countries have yet to set a date to recommence trade negotiations after they resumed their tariffs battle earlier this month, with Trump raising punitive duties on $200 billion in Chinese goods and Beijing hiking those on $60 billion in American products.
Trump has accused China of reneging on its commitments in the trade negotiations. Beijing has countered that any deal needs to be balanced.
“It is impossible for us to sign or recognize an agreement that is unequal,” Wang said.
“If the United States is willing to negotiate on an equal footing, then on the Chinese side, the door is wide open. But if the United States opts for a policy of maximum pressure, then China will take them on and fight to the end,” he said.