SsangYong Motor takeover in jeopardy as buyer fails to pay

A takeover deal of debt-laden SsangYong Motor appears to have fallen into a quagmire again as its buyer, local electric bus manufacturer Edison Motors, failed to pay the bill.

The consortium led by Edison Motors failed to pay the remaining payment of 274.3 billion won ($224.1 million) by Friday, local media reported Sunday, quoting industry sources.

Without complete payment, the Edison Motors-led rehabilitation plan for the financially troubled SUV maker is rendered meaningless, industry watchers said. SsangYong Motor could end up scrapping the deal that it says has failed to satisfy both the company and its creditors.

Edison was not able to bridge the gap with SsangYong’s creditors on its rehabilitation plan. Moreover, the two carmakers have also been facing differences over management rights, the value of the takeover and the scope of sharing technology.

SsangYong Motor’s creditors has been requesting a do-over of the M&A procedure to look for a new owner instead of going through with Edison Motors for a while.

If the deal gets terminated, the South Korean electric carmaker might not be able to get its down payment of 5 billion won back.

SsangYong could keep the contract and give Edison more time to pay the remaining acquisition cost. Such a scenario is highly unlikely, said industry sources with knowledge of the matter.

By the end of this month, SsangYong is expected to seek the court’s approval to walk away from the deal, citing Edison’s financial incapability to complete the payment, the sources said.

Edison, for its part, will keep pursuing the deal by looking for more financial investors to join its consortium, the reports said. It has yet to finalize members of its consortium.

Only Edison Motors and its affiliate Edison EV are listed as members of the Edison Motors-led consortium as financial investor Keystone Private Equity pulled out. The private equity fund Korea Corporate Governance Improvement said it has not confirmed how it would invest, either by securing a stake in SsangYong Motor or lending funds.

Edison EV, which was expected to play the key role in making the acquisition payment, has been operating at a loss itself for four years in a row.

Edison was named the preferred bidder of the deal in October, six months after SsangYong filed for a court receivership.

SsangYong Motor will have to request the court to seek another buyer if Edison Motors decides to drop out. But even if it does, it might be difficult to find a better buyer this time, as candidates that jumped into the preliminary race last year ended up withdrawing their bid.

Some skeptics say it is still uncertain whether SsangYong will be able to find a new buyer with favorable terms, and in a worst-case scenario, it could be liquidated.

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