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Kia CEO relinquishes title

By Agencies

The son of the chairman of Hyundai Motor Co stepped aside on Friday from his CEO post at the company’s Kia affiliate, an official said.


Chung Euisun, 37, son of Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo, will still maintain his title as Kia Motors Corp president and remain focused on overseas business and planning, said Kia spokesman Michael Choo.


The move followed a shareholder meeting earlier on Friday, but Choo said the company had no further comment on the reason for the change. The younger Chung had been appointed chief executive officer and president in March 2005.


Kia, South Korea’s second-largest automaker, has two officials working as both president and CEO.

Chung will be replaced in his CEO post by Kim Ik-hwan, who maintains his previous title as vice chairman and oversees all company operations, Choo said. Cho Nam-hong remains as Kia’s other CEO and president, focusing on Kia’s domestic business.


In its most recent earnings reported in January, Kia said it had swung to a net profit for the last quarter of 2007 but still suffered a 66 percent decline for that year due to falling sales.


Kia and Hyundai Motor Co, South Korea’s largest automaker, form the world’s sixth-largest auto group and they have ambitions to enter the top five by the end of the decade.


The elder Chung was re-elected to serve a three-year term as Hyundai Motor chairman earlier this month, despite the opposition of South Korea’s National Pension Service.


The pension fund, the country’s largest institutional investor that holds a 4.6 per cent stake in Hyundai Motor, said it opposed Chung because his conviction last year for embezzlement and fraud in a slush fund scandal hurt shareholders’ value.


An appeals court suspended Chung’s three-year jail sentence in September.  (AP)