August 9, 2009

S. Korean car maker seeks buyers

The court-appointed manager of a South Korean car maker announced Saturday it was seeking buyers after a crippling strike that lasted more than two months.

The walkout at Ssangyong Motor Corp. ended Thursday. Police said Saturday they were pursuing criminal charges against some employees involved in the strike, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The company declared bankruptcy in February and planned to lay off more than one-third of its labor force.

Ssangyong Motor could possibly pursue its sale if any financial or strategic investors emerge, whether at home or abroad, said the manager, Park Young-tae. No particular company has been tapped yet, but we expect a few firms to express interest in the near future.

A Chinese company, Shanghai Automotive, which owns a 51 percent share in Ssangyong, lost control with the bankruptcy filing.

Analysts told Yonhap three South Korean companies, as well as companies in China and India, have shown interest in Ssangyong.

During the strike, workers barricaded themselves in the paint shop of a Ssangyong plant near Seoul and said they would not leave until they were guaranteed continued employment.

The company's sales in the first six months of the year were down almost 75 percent from the same period last year.