General Motors president says ‘shared sacrifice’ needed to fix Korea unit

Workers from General Motors’ shuttered Gunsan factory protest in Seoul on March 9. GM plans to cut 5,000 jobs in Korea, or about 30 percent of its workforce. (Yonhap via Reuters)
Updated 13 March 2018

General Motors president says ‘shared sacrifice’ needed to fix Korea unit

DETROIT: General Motors President Dan Ammann said on Monday the automaker’s troubled South Korean operations can be a “sustainable, profitable business,” if unions and the South Korean government agree quickly on a restructuring.
GM has warned Korean officials the unit faces a “cash crisis” in the first quarter without new funding. Nearly 2 trillion won ($1.88 billion) of GM Korea’s debts to its parent are due by end-March or early April, according to a regulatory filing.
“Time is short and everybody must move with urgency,” Ammann said in an interview when asked if March 31 was a deadline for action.
The state-funded South Korean Development Bank said on Monday it had begun a due-diligence review of GM’s South Korean unit as part of its decision whether to inject more capital into the money-losing operation.
GM officials have outlined plans to invest up to $2.8 billion in the South Korean operations and convert into equity about $2.7 billion in debt owed by the unit to the parent company, according to Korean government officials and a GM letter reviewed by Reuters.
Ammann said that if the automaker, the South Korean government and unions can agree on a restructuring plan “there’s investment in the business, new product programs that we’d look to allocate” to South Korea.
“It’s a classical restructuring where everybody needs to contribute something in order for everybody to end up in a better place with a sustainable, profitable business.”
New product investments would result in South Korea building vehicles that are part of GM’s global product lineup and could be sold in other markets, Ammann said.
GM on Tuesday asked South Korea to designate its factory site in the city of Bupyeong as a foreign investment zone to be eligible for corporate tax benefits, an official at Incheon Metropolitan City told Reuters.
The official declined to elaborate further on GM’s proposal.
To be eligible for the designation, manufacturers have to construct new factory facilities with foreign investment of more than $30 million, or invest more than $2 million in building or expanding research and development facilities.


Cathay Pacific shelves US dollar bond plans amid Hong Kong unrest

Updated 6 min 31 sec ago

Cathay Pacific shelves US dollar bond plans amid Hong Kong unrest

SINGAPORE: Cathay Pacific Airways has shelved plans for its first US dollar debt deal in 23 years, the airline said on Friday, after sources told Reuters that global investors had questioned the pricing due to civil unrest in Hong Kong.

The airline, the biggest corporate casualty of widespread anti-government protests in the Asian financial hub, on Friday lowered its second-half profit expectations, citing “incredibly challenging” conditions in its home market.

Cathay had started meeting investors in Hong Kong and Singapore on Sept. 24 after it mandated four banks to explore carrying out a US dollar denominated bond, according to a term sheet issued at the time, seen by Reuters.

It would have been the first US dollar debt deal for Cathay since 1996 and had been touted as a landmark transaction for the airline given all of its debt is denominated in Hong Kong dollars.

The issuance was to be unrated, and two sources with knowledge of the matter said that Cathay was willing to pay 200 basis points over the US Treasuries rate to secure three-year or five-year funding, with the size and term of the placement dependent on demand.

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Cathay has only carried out 12 bond transactions in the past decade and all were priced in Hong Kong dollars.

However, investors demanded a higher price of at least 300 basis points over US Treasuries, which made the deal more expensive for Cathay, said the sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter. Cathay’s term sheet had said the transaction would be reliant on market conditions. A Cathay spokesman on Friday said the Hong Kong dollar private placement market was providing more funding opportunities and a debt issuance in that market was completed last month. “We will continue to monitor the US dollar bond market in future,” he said in a statement.

Dealogic data showed that Cathay raised $102 million in October and $64 million in May through Hong Kong dollar denominated deals.

The airline has only carried out 12 bond transactions in the past decade and all were priced in Hong Kong dollars.

Cathay had mandated Bank of America Merrill Lynch, BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and HSBC to work on the shelved US dollar bond deal.