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Hyundai heir apparent commits to completing restructuring in 2019

Hyundai Motor Group, the parent company of South Korean carmakers Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., will complete a restructuring of the business in 2019, Reuters reported Jan. 2.

Executive Chairman Euisun Chung, son of Chairman and CEO Mong-Koo Chung, announced the plan in his first New Year address to employees in Seoul since being appointed in September, stating that the company faces "challenging tasks such as stabilizing business in major markets like the U.S. and China," the report said.

Hyundai Motor and Kia have set a "conservative target" of 7.6 million vehicle sales in 2019, Reuters said. In 2018, the two units reportedly sold 7.399 million vehicles.

The executive said Hyundai and Kia will unveil a combined 13 new or redesigned models in 2019, including a premium Genesis SUV, the news outlet reported. Hyundai also aims to launch a pilot service of its autonomous robo-taxi in South Korea by 2021 and explore alliances with global industry leaders to develop autonomous driving technologies.

Hyundai in March 2018 announced a restructuring plan that called for Hyundai Mobis Co. Ltd.'s module manufacturing and after-sales parts segments to be spun off and merged with logistics division Hyundai Glovis Co. Ltd. in a bid to streamline the group's governance structure.

It subsequently scrapped the plan in May 2018 after facing pressure from activist investor Elliott Management Corp., which described the move as having no sound business rationale and lacking clear benefits to minority shareholders.

The hedge fund again pushed for change in November 2018 after Hyundai Motor recorded a 67% year over year decline in profit during the third quarter of 2018.