The chairwoman of Hyundai Group vowed to invigorate the embattled conglomerate, currently undergoing a self-imposed debt reduction program, and its shipping affiliate as she launched a new vessel on Friday.
“The launching of the ship will help Hyundai Group and Hyundai Merchant Marine make the next leap forward," Hyun Jeong-eun said at the christening ceremony for Hyundai Dream, a 131,000 twenty-foot equivalent container unit vessel on Geoje Island, some 470 kilometers southeast of Seoul.
Hyun's appearance at the event in her capacity as a "god mother" was the first since she took over the business group in 2003 and is viewed by industry watchers as a clear sign that the businesswoman is committed to building up the group that has been particularly hard hit by the downturn in global shipping. HMM, South Korea's No. 2 shipping line, is a key part of the conglomerate along with Hyundai Elevator Co., the country's largest lift manufacturer.
Hyundai announced last year it will generate 3.3 trillion won ($3.1 billion) in fresh cash to cope with its debt by selling off its assets, three financial firms and stock holdings. Among the assets to be sold are shipping terminals and some 10 liquefied natural gas tankers. HMM had 157 vessels in its fleet as of late last month.
The shipping line said that Hyundai Dream is the largest vessel of its kind to be operated by a South Korean company. It is 365.5 meters long from stem to stern, has a beam of 48.4 meters and stands 29.9 meters tall. Hyundai placed the order for the ship in 2011.