City gains advantage in subway line dispute

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City gains advantage in subway line dispute

The Seoul Metropolitan Government said yesterday that it has finally gained authorization to determine fares for subway line No. 9.

The announcement follows a yearlong dispute with the Seoul Metro Line 9 Corporation over fare increases unilaterally imposed by the private consortium operator. The move is part of revised regulations aimed at giving the city government an edge over the corporation in operating line No. 9. In the aftermath of the wrangling, the major stakeholders of the private corporation, including Hyundai Rotem and an affiliate of Australia’s Macquarie Group, have withdrawn from the firm by selling off their stakes, city officials confirmed yesterday.

Hyundai Rotem was the largest shareholder, with a 25 percent stake in the Seoul Metro Line 9 Corporation, while Macquarie Korea Infrastructure Fund held 24.5 percent of shares. Replacing them will be Hanwha Asset Management and Shinhan BNP Paribas Asset Management. Kyobo Life Insurance has also joined Seoul Metro Line 9 Corporation.

Back in April 2012, the corporation announced that the base fare for line No. 9 - the only privately-owned line - would increased from 1,050 won ($0.92) to 1,550 won ($1.46). The decision was met with an immediate public outcry, prompting the Seoul Metropolitan Government to step in.

The city office said at the time that the increase was unacceptable, as subway fares had gone up just two months prior. Seoul Metro Line 9 Corporation filed a lawsuit with the Seoul Administrative Court last year against the city government, to overturn its decision to ax the planned fare increase. The court ruled in favor of the city in May.

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