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Hyundai Motor shareholders reject Elliott's dividend plans, board member candidates

Approval seen as crushing victory for Hyundai Motor over Elliott

Ending weeks of arguments over the adequacy of Hyundai Motor’s dividend plans, shareholders on Friday rejected a proposal by US activist investor Elliott Management that urged it to provide a combined 8.3 trillion won ($7.3 billion) dividends to investors this year.

At an annual shareholders meeting held at the carmaker’s headquarters in Seoul, 86 percent of the shareholders voted for Hyundai’s plan of offering 1.1 trillion won in dividends while 14 percent stood by Elliott’s proposals.

Shareholders also approved the company’s recommendation of new board members over Elliott’s candidates.

The vote results were widely seen as a crushing victory for Hyundai Motor over Elliott, the world's largest hedge fund, known for its hardcore shareholders activism.

Elliott has been pressuring the South Korean carmaker since last year, blocking its attempt to revamp its tangled corporate governance.

(Hyundai Motor)
(Hyundai Motor)

Hyundai had requested for shareholders’ approval of three new outside directors: Yoon Chi-won, vice chairman of UBS Group, Eugene Ohr, former international partner of Capital Group, and Yi Sang-seung, economics professor at Seoul National University.

Three executives -- Hyundai Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun, Hyundai Motor President Lee Won-hee and R&D Head Albert Biermann -- were also named board members.

Biermann, a former BMW engineer, is the first foreign executive to be on the board of the carmaker in its 51-year history.