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What Hyundai Capital's leadership overhaul means for auto conglomerate Korea’s family-run conglomerate may be mulling spin-off of part of its financial arms

Translated by Ryu Ho-joung 공개 2021-10-22 08:19:31

이 기사는 2021년 10월 22일 08:10 더벨 유료페이지에 표출된 기사입니다.

Hyundai Capital, the finance arm of Hyundai Motor, have undergone major leadership changes in recent months, raising speculation about a potential spin-off of part of the South Korean automobile conglomerate’s financial services units.

The leadership overhaul of Hyundai Motor Group’s three financial services arms – Hyundai Capital, Hyundai Card and Hyundai Commercial – started in April this year when the companies appointed Mok Jin-won, Kim Deok-hwan and Lee Byung-hui as their chief executives, respectively.

This was a major shift from the previous system where Chung Tae-young, the brother-in-law of the family-run conglomerate’s chairman Chung Eui-sun, had direct leadership of the three firms.

The conglomerate said at the time that Chung Tae-young would focus on strategic business issues rather than day-to-day operations. However in September, he stepped down both as Hyundai Capital’s chief executive and from the board, with Mok taking over his role.

His wife, Chung Myung-yi, also stepped down from her role at Hyundai Capital earlier this month. She is expected to focus on managing the business of Hyundai Commercial, in which she owns a chunk of shares.

On top of that, Hyundai Capital recently announced executive appointments focused on removing positions concurrently held by 29 executives at Hyundai Card. “More personnel moves are likely for some time,” a Hyundai Capital official said.

Major changes to Hyundai Capital’s leadership coincide with Chung Eui-sun, the grandson of Hyundai’s founder, strengthening his grip over the conglomerate after he took the helm in October 2020.

Hyundai Motor Group, like its global peers, apparently intends to grow Hyundai Capital to provide auto financing services ranging from new car purchases to auto insurance to used car finance.

Some view the conglomerate’s efforts to tighten its grip over Hyundai Capital as a first step to spin off its other two financial services units.

That view was supported by Hyundai Commercial’s move to purchase shares in Hyundai Card. Hyundai Commercial in August acquired some 6.4 million shares in the card company, raising its stake to 28.54%.

After the transaction, Hyundai Commercial – 37.5% owned by Chung Tae-young and Chung Myung-yi – became the second largest shareholder in Hyundai Card after Hyundai Motor.

The third largest shareholder in Hyundai Card is Fubon Financial, which is considered an ally of Chung Tae-young. The Taiwanese financial services giant bought a 20% stake in Hyundai Card this summer from the card company’s financial investors who wanted to exit from the company after its initial public offering was delayed.

Critics of this view point out that there is no meaningful change in Hyundai Card’s ownership structure. The card company is 36.06% and 11.48% owned by Hyundai Motor and its subsidiary Kia Corp, respectively. Hyundai Motor also owns a sizable 37.5% stake in Hyundai Commercial.

“It’s just speculation. Hyundai Motor is maintaining control of Hyundai Card as the largest shareholder,” an official at one of Hyundai’s financial services unit said. (Reporting by Jung-hyun Ryu)
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