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UPDATE 1-S.Korea's Hyundai Motor Group to invest $21.6 bln over 5 yrs -fin ministry

Kitco News

* Investment to be in electric cars, self-driving autos, others

* Hyundai Motor Group to hire about 45,000 people over 5 yrs

* After sales slump, Hyundai foraying into newer growth areas


(Recasts and changes slug of story which previously ran as SOUTHKOREA-ECONOMY/FOREX)

SEOUL, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Hyundai Motor Group plans to invest about 23 trillion won ($21.56 billion) over the next five years in areas such as electric cars, self-driving automobiles and artificial intelligence, South Korea's finance ministry said on Wednesday.

The announcement comes as South Korea's second-largest conglomerate, which also includes Kia Motors , is foraying into newer growth areas after its sales slumped last year due to an inadequate product line-up in the United States and diplomatic tensions with China. Hyundai Motor Group will also target hiring about 45,000 people for the next five years, the ministry said in a statement after Finance Minister Kim Dong-yeon's visit to Hyundai Motor earlier on Wednesday.

Besides electric and self-driving cars, the planned 23 trillion won will also include investments into fields such as batteries and hydrogen energy, as well as start-ups, the ministry said.

A Hyundai Motor Co spokeswoman confirmed the hiring plan but did not comment on the investment sum. She said the statement was discussed with the company beforehand.

"Global trends are changing fast," Hyundai Motor Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun said, according to the statement. "We will recruit better, top-level talent in these new businesses and develop them going forward."

Hyundai Motor said earlier this month it had invested in Southeast Asian ride-hailing firm Grab, as it seeks to expand into the region to reduce its reliance on China following a damaging diplomatic row between Seoul and Beijing. Finance Minister Kim also said on Wednesday authorities will leave foreign exchange rates to market participants but take action if needed.

The won was trading down 0.3 percent at 1,065.8 per dollar as of 0442 GMT. Currency dealers have suspected foreign exchange authorities of engaging in intervention to slow the won's rise. ($1 = 1,066.8000 won)


(Reporting by Shin-hyung Lee and Joyce Lee; Additional reporting by Ju-min Park; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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