General Motors closes one of its South Korean factories


General Motors Company (NYSE:GM) will close one of its four plants in South Korea and take an $850 million impairment charge as it restructures its money-losing business in the country.

General Motors' (GM) workers at a South Korean plant staged a protest on Wednesday against its planned closure, calling the move by the US automaker a "death sentence", and threatening a strike.

For the record however, GM had to shut down its vehicle manufacturing units in Russia, Europe, South Africa, and Australia.

The proposal includes significant investment in South Korea that would preserve thousands of jobs, it said.

Kaher Kazem, president and CEO of GM Korea, explains, "This is a necessary but hard first step in our efforts to restructure our operations in South Korea".

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After the closure of the plant in the coastal town of Gunsan, the company will reduce its excess production capacity.

Gunsan is one of four assembly plants that GM operates in the country, along with four additional engine factories, design and engineering facilities, and a larger proving ground.

In recent years, the Detroit automaker has been winding down on its global operations and closing down assembly plants in unprofitable markets which has taken a toll on its Korea business which exports more than half of its vehicles.

The fate of the company's other South Korean operations will be determined in coming weeks as GM progresses in talks with both the government and labor unions on cost cutting to turn the business to a profit. The government will continue talks with the USA carmaker to normalize its business here, considering "the impact on jobs and the regional economy". This decision follows a careful review of all the significant losses incurred by GM korea for the past several years.

GM partakes a 77 percent stake in GM Korea and the state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB) holds a 17 percent stake in the maker of the Chevrolet Spark minicar, the Cruze compact, and the Captiva SUV.

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South Korea's strong labour unions have weighed on the country's automobile industry, which Moon's administration views as a challenge, a trade ministry official said.

GM sells Chevrolet and Cadillac brand vehicles in Korea.

"If we are successful in working with our stakeholders to restructure and get to a viable cost structure, we would see an opportunity to invest" in new vehicles, Ammann said. A further list and description of these risks, uncertainties and other factors can be found in General Motors' Report on Form 10-K for the fiscal year ended December 31, 2017, and subsequent filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. China's SAIC Motor Corp. owns 6 percent, while GM has the remainder.

The decision announced by GM's Korean subsidiary, is another step in the global operations cut program, which is being conducted by Director-General Mary Barra.

"There are some issues to be resolved to find out ways to help the company, such as a shareholder audit, but GM has not listened to us", the official said, requesting anonymity.

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