Family behind Hyundai just made $2 billion on Apple collaboration report

Topics Hyundai | Apple  | Automakers

Chung Euisun, executive vice chairman of Hyundai Motor Co., speaks during a new year company meeting at the automaker's headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday, Jan. 2, 2020
A reported potential tie-up with Apple Inc. made South Korea’s second-richest family even richer.

Shares of Hyundai Motor Co. jumped as much as 25% in Seoul Friday -- the most since 1988 -- after South Korean media said the carmaker was in talks with the U.S. tech giant over developing self-driving vehicles. Hyundai initially confirmed the report before dialing it back to excise any mention of Apple, saying it had been receiving requests to cooperate on the technology from a number of companies.

Regardless, the stock surge boosted the combined fortune of Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Euisun Chung and his father, Mong-Koo, by almost $2 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Euisun, who succeed his father as the group’s chairman in October, has been pushing for technologies including electric and driverless vehicles to turn the carmaker into one of the world’s leaders. Hyundai Motor will spend more than 60 trillion won ($55 billion) in those areas over the next five years and in 2019 set up a $4 billion autonomous-driving joint venture with a General Motors Co. spinoff. It plans to release its first electric vehicle this year.

Any collaboration with a big tech company could boost that push. Apple has said it will take at least five years to introduce an autonomous, electric vehicle, according to people familiar with the plans, meaning that it’s in no hurry to decide on potential auto-industry partners.

Investors have increasingly turned to electric vehicles and their suppliers, driven to a great extent by an unstoppable rally in shares of industry front-runner Tesla Inc. On Thursday, Elon Musk surpassed Inc.’s Jeff Bezos as the world’s richest person, with a net worth of $194.8 billion.

With Friday’s jump in Hyundai Motor shares, Euisun Chung is now worth $4.8 billion and his father’s wealth has climbed to $7.4 billion. The two directly hold about 8% of Hyundai Motor.

Friday was also a good day for South Korea’s richest person. Jay Y. Lee of Samsung Electronics Co. gained more than $2 billion as shares of the nation’s biggest company advanced the most since March to hit a peak after it reported a 26% jump in operating income. The Samsung heir faces a nine-year prison term for bribery, with the Seoul High Court poised to make a ruling on Jan. 18.

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