As a final decision looms, one of South Korea’s top government officials has called for a resolution to a dispute that could stymie Georgia’s largest-ever foreign investment.
SK Innovation is plowing ahead with its $2.6 billion electric-vehicle battery complex in Commerce, Ga., despite its ongoing legal dispute with LG Energy Solutions, formerly LG Chem, which alleges SK stole its trade secrets.
The International Trade Commission ruled against SK in the initial case, citing the possibility that it destroyed documents. The final determination in the case was slated to come down last October but was delayed till Feb. 10.
With less than a week to go, Korean Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun said it was “simply embarrassing” that they had paid billions of won in attorney’s fees rather than finding a mutually agreeable solution.
He said the companies should resolve the matter to avoid losing ground to Chinese competitors and hampering progress in a sector that rivals biotech, the Internet and gaming in strategic economic importance, according to the Korea Times.
SK said in a statement it believes that both companies should be focused on creating jobs and meeting demand from car makers rather than dealing with legal matters. The company restated its commitment to resolving the issue.
“I sincerely apologize for not being able to settle the matter smoothly despite my sincere efforts in all the legal proceedings so far,” Ji Dong-seop, CEO of the SK Innovation battery business, said in a statement on the prime minister’s comments, adding that ending the dispute is a “national wish.”
“Recognizing these national concerns and wishes, I will do my best to resolve them smoothly through cooperative and constructive dialogue efforts with the parties involved in the dispute. In addition, we will try to contribute to the development of the national economy and industrial ecosystem as the people expect,” Mr. Ji said.
With the construction first phase complete, SK Battery has hired about 200 permanent workers at the Commerce plant.