March 12, 2018 / 9:54 PM / 12 days ago

GM president says 'shared sacrifice' needed to fix GM Korea

DETROIT, March 12 (Reuters) - General Motors Co President Dan Ammann said on Monday the automaker’s troubled South Korean operations can be a “sustainable, profitable business,” if unions and the South Korean government agree quickly on a restructuring.

GM has warned Korean officials the unit faces a “cash crisis” in the first quarter without new funding. Nearly 2 trillion won ($1.88 billion) of GM Korea’s debts to its parent are due by end-March or early April, according to a regulatory filing.

“Time is short and everybody must move with urgency,” Ammann told Reuters in an interview when asked if March 31 was a deadline for action.

The state-funded South Korean Development Bank said on Monday it had begun a due-diligence review of GM’s South Korean unit as part of its decision whether to inject more capital into the money-losing operation.

GM officials have outlined plans to invest up to $2.8 billion in the South Korean operations and convert into equity about $2.7 billion in debt owed by the unit to the parent company, according to Korean government officials and a GM letter reviewed by Reuters.

Ammann said that if the automaker, the South Korean government and unions can agree on a restructuring plan “there’s investment in the business, new product programs that we’d look to allocate” to South Korea. “It’s a classical restructuring where everybody needs to contribute something in order for everybody to end up in a better place with a sustainable, profitable business.”

New product investments would result in South Korea building vehicles that are part of GM’s global product lineup and could be sold in other markets, Ammann said. (Reporting by Joe White Editing by Tom Brown)

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