After failed merger, Hyundai Heavy secures cash to nurture new growth engines


Hyundai Heavy Industries’ failed acquisition of its smaller rival Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering may be a boon for the nation’s largest shipbuilder as it has secured abundant cash to focus on new growth engine businesses such as hydrogen, autonomous driving and robots.

Last week, the European Commission disapproved the merger plan of the two Korean shipbuilders over monopoly concerns. With the veto by the world’s largest shipbuilding market, Hyundai Heavy saw its three-year efforts for the 2 trillion won ($1.68 billion) deal dashed.

But industry watchers say what could seem like a bane could turn out to be a boon.

“Early 2019 when Hyundai Heavy announced it was going to acquire DSME, it was a time when shipbuilders struggled to secure orders and compete head-on by lowering prices,” said Han Young-soo, an analyst at Samsung Securities.

“But now all Korean builders have enough orders on hand amid growing prices. The shipbuilding market is entering the supercycle.”

In just two weeks entering the new year, Hyundai Heavy has secured orders worth 3 trillion won, which is 15 percent of their order target for the whole 2022.

Now, with a failed merger plan, Hyundai Heavy has 1.5 trillion won of cash in hand, cash they were going to use to acquire DSME. Industry sources say that the deal price could have surged to some 6 trillion won considering the deal involved debts repayments to creditors.

“Hyundai Heavy has much room to invest, especially in new businesses,” Han added.

Earlier this month, Hyundai Heavy made its debut at 2022 CES. Its CEO Chung Ki-sun laid out the company’s vision to become a “future builder,” presenting autonomous navigation, liquid hydrogen and robotics as the three key technologies to focus on.

Sources say much of the newly secured cash could be poured in to the new growth engine businesses whose success is closely linked to the status of Chung, the third-generation scion, within the company.

Credit rating companies also offered a rosy outlook for the company’s financial health following the failed merger.

“The financial burden on Hyundai Heavy has disappeared, and that will affect its credit rating positively,” said the Korea Investors Service.

A Hyundai Heavy official said the firm is thoroughly reviewing the EU’s decision to decide on their next step such as where to invest with the cash.

“We have proposed three new businesses that we will be focusing on at CES and they are all very important. But in terms of this year, in line with our roadmap, we will be concentrating on autonomous navigation technology,” said the official.

Source: The Korea Herald