SEOUL, March 19 (Yonhap) -- The board of Hyundai Motor Co., South Korea's biggest carmaker by sales, on Thursday appointed Hyundai Motor Group's heir apparent as its chairman to push forward the group's future mobility initiative.
Hyundai Motor directors agreed to name Executive Vice Chairman Chung Euisun, 49, as chairman of the flagship firm's board to strengthen its "responsible management" amid growing uncertainties and tougher competition with rivals, the company said.
"The decision is aimed at effectively and quickly coping with concerns over a possible economic recession and a rapidly changing paradigm shift in the automobile industry. Efforts to enhance the board's independence and transparency will continue going forward," a Hyundai official said.
Faced with the impact of the spreading coronavirus outbreak on its sales, Hyundai Motor badly needs "strong and implacable" leadership to ride out the difficulties, the official said.
Hyundai Motor has suspended operations at its Alabama plant after one of its employees was infected with COVID-19, with its other overseas plants facing possible shutdown amid growing infection fears.
Shares in Hyundai Motor had plunged 10 percent to 66,000 won, underperforming the broader KOSPI's 7.8 percent loss, as of 2:30 p.m.
Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo, 81, has quit his chairman's post in Hyundai Motor's board after serving in the position since 1999.
The chairman's departure from the board could strengthen his only son's position in leading the South Korean automotive group.
The maker of the Sonata sedan and the Santa Fe sport utility vehicle recently updated its articles of association to include future mobility service provision as well as car manufacturing.
Meanwhile, Chung Euisun has recently quit his director post at Hyundai Steel Co. to focus on the automobile business in line with the group's drive to transform itself into a smart mobility solutions provider.
He will maintain his directorship at Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors Corp. and auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis Co.
Hyundai and Kia together form the world's fifth-biggest carmaker by sales. Hyundai Mobis, de facto holding company of the group, develops next-generation vehicle technologies and supplies core auto parts to the carmakers.
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