The Korea Herald


Hyundai Heavy opposes HMM share sale plan

By 황장진

Published : March 23, 2011 - 18:56

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Hyundai Merchant Marine Co., the biggest unit of Korea’s Hyundai Group, jumped the most in almost four months in Seoul trading as opposition to a share sale plan prompted speculation it may be a takeover target.

The shipping line rose by the daily limit of 15 percent limit, the biggest climb since Nov. 30, to close at 33,250 won in Seoul. The stock was the second-best performer on the KOSPI index Wednesday. Hyundai Elevator Co., Hyundai Merchant’s biggest single shareholder and a unit of Hyundai Group, gained 14 percent to 108,500 won.

Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., the world’s biggest shipyard, opposes Hyundai Merchant’s plan to raise the ceiling of new preferred shares the shipping line can sell to 80 million from the current 20 million, Hyun Jeong-eun’s Hyundai Group said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday. Hyundai Heavy and its Hyundai Samho Heavy Industries Co. own a combined 23.8 percent in the shipping line, setting up a possible takeover battle with the shipyards’ biggest shareholder, Chung Mong-joon, Hyun’s brother-in-law.

“The opposition from Hyundai Heavy shows its reluctance to give up hopes of getting control of Hyundai Merchant,” Hyundai Group said in the statement. “We want to increase the gap to get access to funds for ship investments and to strengthen our finances for growth.”

Hyundai Heavy’s resistance may make it more difficult to get approval from other shareholders at a meeting on March 25, according to the statement. The preferred shares will have voting rights.

Hyundai Heavy is opposed to raising the cap because it could damage shareholders’ value, the Ulsan, Korea-based company said in an e-mailed statement. “We don’t understand why Hyundai Merchant needs to increase the cap for preferred shares when it can sell 120 million of common shares,” it said.

Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co. owns 7.8 percent of Hyundai Merchant. Korea’s largest builder was bought by Chung Mong-koo’s Hyundai Motor Group, beating Hyun’s bid. Hyundai Engineering declined to comment on Hyundai Merchant’s preferred stock plan.

The Hyundai Group statement Wednesday also cited “market speculation” that Hyundai Motor Group may sell Hyundai Engineering’s stake in the shipping line to Hyundai Heavy.

Hyundai Group and its allies own about 43 percent of Hyundai Merchant.

Hyundai Motor Group split off from the main Hyundai Group in 2000, after Chung was snubbed as heir by his father in favor of his younger brother and Hyun’s husband, Chung Mong-hun. Hyun took control of Hyundai Group after her husband committed suicide in 2003.