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Court greenlights KG Group’s acquisition of SsangYong Motor at W900b


A Seoul bankruptcy court on Tuesday approved a local consortium led by chemical-to-steel firm KG Group to acquire a 58.85 percent stake in SsangYong Motor at a reported 900 billion won ($700 million), ending a two-way race to acquire the debt-ridden South Korean SUV maker. SsangYong has been under court receivership for 14 months after its Indian parent Mahindra & Mahindra failed to attract fresh funding amid worsening financial health during the pandemic. 

Following the court’s approval, SsangYong Motor said it will submit a rehabilitation plan to the court by the end of July and earn shareholders’ consent in early September. 

Last month, the court picked cash-abundant KG Group as the preliminary bidder for SsangYong Motor, mainly for its fiscal health. The group suggested paying 900 billion won -- 335 billion won for the takeover and 564 billion won for the operating funds -- by joining hands with financial investors like Cactus PE. 

A takeover battle for SsangYong Motor kicked off in April between three rival bidders -- KG Group, Ssangbangwool and Pavilion PE -- immediately after local electric bus maker Edison Motors Co. failed to make a full payment of 304.8 billion won for the carmaker by the March 25 deadline in the previous bid. Pavilion PE later joined forces with KG Group, dropping out from the three-way race.

KG Group’s detailed plan for financing, investment as well as stable cash flow and funding capability turned out to be critical for Tuesday’s decision, according to SsangYong Motor and EY, the lead manager of the deal.

Founded in 2003, KG Group -- previously Gyeonggi Chemical, a local fertilizer company -- expanded rapidly by making 15 mergers and acquisitions in diverse sectors. The firm’s M&A‘s included steelmaker Dongbu Steel, credit card service operator Inicis, local news outlet Edaily and the franchise operation rights for KFC Korea. Most recently, it acquired coffee chain Hollys Coffee for 145 billion won in 2020.

SsangYong Motor’s eventful history searching for a new owner goes back to 2009.

China-based SAIC Motor Corp. acquired a 51 percent stake in SsangYong in 2004, but relinquished its control of the carmaker in 2009 in the wake of the global financial crisis.

In 2011, Mahindra acquired a 70 percent stake in SsangYong for 523 billion won and now holds a 74.65 percent stake in the carmaker. But the Korean carmaker has been put to court receivership for the second time in April last year, after it failed to repay around 160 billion won worth of loans.

By Kim Da-sol (ddd@heraldcorp.com)
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