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Hyundai Motor chief says no plan to build U.S. plant for now

Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo attends the company's opening ceremony for the year in Seoul January 2, 2012. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji
Hyundai Motor Chairman Chung Mong-koo attends the company's opening ceremony for the year in Seoul January 2, 2012. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

SEOUL (Reuters) - Hyundai Motor Group does not immediately plan to build a new car factory in the United States, Chairman Chung Mong-koo said on Monday, downplaying speculation that the South Korean automaker would soon announce production facilities in the key market.

"We have no plan (for a new U.S. factory) for now," the 75-year-old told reporters at Seoul's Gimpo airport before leaving for the United States.

Hyundai Motor Group is a parent company for Hyundai Motor Co <005380.KS> and Kia Motors Corp <000270.KS>, which combined are the world's fifth-biggest car company by sales.

Chung, who has so far ruled out major capacity expansion, last week said the company "will look into whether there are opportunities" to expand production overseas, giving rise to industry talk that the automaker was considering building a new plant in the United States.

Chung is expected to visit Hyundai and Kia's U.S. plants in Alabama and Georgia during his visit, which coincides with South Korean President Park Geun-hye's U.S. trip.

Hyundai shares were down 0.5 percent, underperforming a wider market <.KS11> that was up 0.3 percent at 0314 GMT. Kia shares were flat.

Kim Yong-hwan, another senior executive at Hyundai Motor Group, also said on Monday that the company is not seriously considering building a new car factory in the United States.

"We are closely watching the U.S. market situation ... but we are not having an in-depth consideration of a new plant there," he told Reuters.

He said an introduction of a third shift at Hyundai's Alabama plant last year helped ease capacity constraints in the United States.

Analysts have said Hyundai or Kia are likely to soon build a new U.S. plant to address capacity shortages that have hurt their market share and sales this year.

(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

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