An interview with Forbes the boss of the Korean Development Bank, which GM-Daewoo still owes several billion dollars, reveals that GM’s South Korean unit had a debt-to-equity ratio of 912 percent as recently as last June. GM “rescued” its crucial small-car development center by buying up all $413m of GM-Daewoo’s recent share offering, keeping the the KDB from imposing its will on the automaker. That was enough to keep the wolf from Daewoo’s door in the short term, but if Daewoo is ever going to develop a new generation of GM small cars and global products, it will have to address its $2b KDB debt and raise additional funds. For now though, GM-Daewoo is just hoping to keep a little momentum going.
It’s not that GM’s Korean Daewoo division doesn’t need more money. The problem is that the only bank willing to lend a dime, the Korean Development Bank, wants strings attached. Since GM came up with the cash to buy up Daewoo’s $413m rights offering, it says Daewoo is out of trouble for two more years. Or 18 months… depending on that troublesome global car market. Meanwhile, GM-Daewoo’s $5b worth of forward contracts will burn up $300m in cash every month, as the debt matures. Although KDB and GM-Daewoo’s other lenders refuse to roll any of that debt forward and have been firm about enacting safeguards before loaning the automaker more money, GM’s Nick Reilly says Daewoo can now negotiate from a position of relative strength. Emphasis on relative.