[EDITORIALS] Rescuing Hyundai - Again

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[EDITORIALS] Rescuing Hyundai - Again

Our frustration and suspicions grow over the Hyundai Group's endlessly repeated bailouts, reminiscent of pouring water into a bottomless jar. On Saturday, creditor banks announced yet another plan to aid three Hyundai affiliates: Hyundai Electronics, Hyundai Engineering and Construction and Hyundai Petrochemical. This scenario strongly suggests that creditors are doing their utmost to keep Hyundai afloat.

Given Korea's economic reality, it is understandable that the government feels it cannot simply look on as Hyundai collapses. But it is worrisome because the government seems to be dragged around without any principles or comprehensive plans. It is hard to understand how the situation deteriorated to this point of needing such high-intensity prescriptions, when it was only recently that the scheme of the Korea Development Bank's quick takeover of Hyundai's corporate bonds was put forth.

The government and creditors keep saying that this will be Hyundai's "last assistance." But the newest bailout is the fifth. It is doubtful that the latest package will revive Hyundai. The government has broken the principle of "all-time liquidation" it stated only 10 days ago.

The order of things is upside down as well. Without a comprehensive assessment of the problems and prospects, creditors are intent on "reviving Hyundai first, no questions asked." That is why the government keeps dancing to Hyundai's tune, with few results as yet. As for Hyundai Construction, a big fuss is being made about conducting due diligence after immense bailouts have been already thrown in. If it is found that fraudulent accounting was the norm and the company's health is in dire straits, what will the government do? Yet, it is lukewarm about pressing Hyundai for self-rescue plans and managements' accountability. It remains at the level: "Hyundai has said that it is willing to submit an equity-to-debt swap agreement, if necessary."

No wonder suspicions and disputes over fairness rampage. If things continue, it is highly likely that it will lead to ailing banks, followed by the infusion of public funds and a heavy blow to the national economy. After a prompt and accurate assessment, whether to extend assistance should be re-examined. Also, those who are responsible for Hyundai's failure must be held accountable.
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