South Korea regulator not probing Hyundai executives' share sales after Apple deal reports: official

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s financial markets watchdog, the Financial Supervisory Service (FSS), is not currently investigating Hyundai Motor executives’ sales of shares in the automaker, a regulatory official said on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Hyundai Motors is seen on a steering wheel on display at the company’s headquarters in Seoul, South Korea, March 22, 2019. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

The official made the statement after some retail investors expressed concerns in online stock forums over the possibility of insider trading by Hyundai executives who sold shares in recent weeks.

Reports of possible cooperation between Hyundai and tech giant Apple on a self-driving electric vehicle that emerged early in January sent Hyundai stock sharply higher, adding billions of dollars to its market value.

The official said the regulator would need more facts to support speculation on retail investor forums before considering an investigation. The official declined to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to media.

Hyundai did not have comment on the matter when reached by Reuters.

The company said on Monday it is not now in talks with Apple on autonomous vehicles, just a month after it confirmed early-stage talks with the tech giant. Shares in Hyundai jumped 21% between the initial confirmation and Monday’s announcement that the project was now off.

Since the initial report of Hyundai-Apple cooperation on Jan. 8, a total of 12 mid-ranking Hyundai Motor executives sold about 3,400 shares worth about 833 million won ($747,152), according to Reuters calculations based on the company’s regulatory filings.

Analysts described the executives’ share sales as standard practice.

“It’s a routine procedure that company executives sell or buy their company stocks,” said Kevin Yoo, an analyst at eBEST Investment & Securities. “The amount Hyundai Motor executives have sold after the media report is not a lot of money, and executives often sell or buy company stocks to turn them into profit.”

Hyundai Motor shares rose 1.7% in morning trade, compared to a 0.7% gain in the broader market.

($1 = 1,114.9000 won)

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