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Report: GM proposes debt-for-equity swap for South Korea ops

General Motors Co. is willing to convert about $2.2 billion in debt owed by its South Korean business into equity, a move that would allow the business to continue operating in South Korea, Reuters reported, citing "four sources with direct knowledge of the matter."

In return, the Detroit automaker wants financial support and tax benefits from Seoul.

GM Korea said Feb. 12 that it will shut down its Gunsan facility by the end of May as it decides on the fate of its three other South Korean plants.

The company sought more than $1 billion in financial support from the South Korean government, one of the sources told Reuters. The company also wanted its South Korean plants to be eligible for tax breaks for seven years, several sources told Reuters.

Government officials said it needed to conduct due diligence before committing to any financial support.

GM international operations head Barry Engle on Feb. 20 discussed the company's restructuring plan with a task force headed by a ruling party lawmaker, after which Engle told reporters the company wanted to stay in South Korea, according to the report.

Meanwhile, according to South Korean lawmaker Kim Sung-tae, Engle said the automaker is planning to launch two new car models in South Korea.

GM Korea recorded 1.9 trillion South Korean won in net losses between 2014 and 2016, Reuters reported.

As of Feb. 19, US$1 was equivalent to 1,067.65 South Korean won.