Troubled Korean SUV manufacturer Ssangyong is set to be acquired by Edison Motors, a relatively young commercial vehicle firm, for the equivalent of just £170 million.
The widely reported acquisition comes after a long period of financial trouble for Ssangyong. Majority shareholder Mahindra & Mahindra has been seeking to sell its 75% stake since June 2020, having cancelled all further investment in April.
The Indian manufacturing giant saved Ssangyong from bankruptcy in 2011, but slow global sales have limited the return on its investment. In December 2020, Ssangyong filed for bankruptcy, reportedly owing some 315 billion won (£194m) to its creditor, and was ordered to restructure itself by a bankruptcy court.
Now, six-year-old EV start-up Edison Motors is primed to take control of Ssangyong for 280bn won (£170m), according to reports from Asia. The move would provide Edison with a passenger car portfolio in addition to its current range of electric buses and trucks.
Edison was initially one of a number of interested parties and substantially outbid by an offer of 500bn won (£307m) from rival firm EL B&T. But with all other bidders now out of the race, Edison has become the preferred buyer.
Despite its financial troubles and declining sales in recent years, Ssangyong has been clear about its future product strategy. An electric version of the Korando crossover is due to arrive imminently, followed by a larger and more ruggedly styled SUV called the J100, which will serve as a rival to the Dacia Bigster.
Ssangyong is the fourth largest manufacturer in Korea, after Kia, Hyundai and GM Korea. Edison CEO Kang Young-kwon told The Korea Herald that, if successful, his company will invest between 800bn and one trillion won in Ssangyong's revival, with a view to turning it into a viable rival to Tesla, Volkswagen and GM.