Hyundai Capital Services Inc., 43 percent owned by General Electric Co., is looking into auto financing services in the U.S., a move that may boost Hyundai Motor Co.'s sales in its largest overseas market. ``We have ongoing discussions'' on the timing and details of Hyundai Capital's U.S. operation, Senior Executive Vice President Bernard van Bunnik said yesterday in an interview. ``And in Europe, we are actually doing some exciting things.'' Offering automobile loans would bolster Hyundai Motor's marketing in the U.S., where it targets sales of 500,000 units for the first time this year. That accounts for 16 percent of its total sales target of 3.11 million. ``The GE partnership will be a big plus for Hyundai Capital's U.S. business in terms of funding and loan ratings,'' said Song Sang Hoon, a Seoul-based analyst at Hungkuk Securities Co. ``Such a financing service would help Hyundai Motor's marketing and lead to a sales boost in a couple years.'' Hyundai Capital is 56.5 percent owned by Hyundai Motor, South Korea's largest automaker.
The Seoul-based company offers financing for over 80 percent of customers of Hyundai Motor and affiliate Kia Motors Corp. in South Korea. ``We want to go where there is a sizeable Hyundai, Kia presence -- a growing presence with a sizeable number of units sold,'' Van Bunnik, who joined from General Electric's consumer finance arm, GE Money, said in his Seoul office. ``We want to be there to support that growth.'' European Operations Fairfield, Connecticut-based GE has already started offering financing for Kia customers in Austria, Germany, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia and Spain under a deal signed a year ago, Hyundai Capital Senior Vice President Choi Jin Hwan said yesterday. ``A lot of preparation is going on in lots of countries in Europe,'
' Choi said. GE Money, which gets about 75 percent of its net income from overseas markets, has invested 3.2 trillion won in Hyundai Capital and another affiliate Hyundai Card Co. since 2004. GE also has a 43 percent stake in Hyundai Card. ``From the very start for GE and Hyundai, this was more than just a Korean partnership,'' said Van Bunnik, who joined Hyundai Capital in 2004. ``We always had in mind that we'd like this to become a global partnership.'' Hyundai Motor shares dropped 2.5 percent to 67,200 won at the 3 p.m. market close in Seoul trading, while the benchmark Kospi index fell 1.9 percent.