Neithernor Kia plans to build a new plant in the U.S., Hyundai Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo tells reporters at Gimpo Airport in Seoul.
Chung is part of an entourage led by South Korean President Park Geun Hye and consisting of more than 50 of Korea’s highest-ranking industrialists and businessmen on the way to the U.S. for a meeting with President Obama.
Korean news media one week ago had speculated Kia, and then, would build a new plant in the U.S., with reports last Friday suggesting Chung would announce the plan while in the U.S.
Hyundai has eased its U.S. capacity problems by adding a third shift at its plant in Montgomery, AL, a company source in Korea says.
Chung is traveling with many of Korea’s top-tier industrialists, including Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee and LG Group Chairman Koo Bon-moo.
Security analysts in Seoul believe Hyundai or Kia eventually will add another assembly plant in the U.S. and that detailed internal discussions already are under way.
They note U.S. capacity constraints are a drag on sales for both Hyundai and Kia in North America.
The delegation of 52 business leaders will hold roundtable discussions with U.S. counterparts, includingChairman and CEO Dan Akerson, according to the source. They are expected to discuss ways their industries and companies can benefit mutually from the U.S.-South Korea free-trade agreement.
President Park’s aides in Korea say the delegation also will downplay any possible negative impact on business operations in Korea stemming from heavy anti-U.S. and anti-South Korea rhetoric that has been coming out of North Korea, which has included threats of nuclear strikes against both countries.
As part of the tour, Chung plans to visit Hyundai’s operations in Montgomery and Kia’s plant in West Point, GA.