The settlement came after the US International Trade Commission in February slapped a 10-year import ban on SK Innovation over allegations from its Korean rival of illegally acquiring sensitive technology. If the two companies had not come to an agreement by Sunday, the president would have had to decide whether to override the ITC ruling. Biden said in a statement: “This settlement agreement is a win for American workers and the American auto industry.” He added the agreement would “bring some welcome relief to workers in Georgia and new opportunity for workers across the country”.
Under the agreement SK will pay LG Won2tn ($1.8bn) via cash and a running royalty, the companies said in a joint statement on Sunday. As part of the deal, the companies also agreed to drop all pending litigation and vowed not to file any lawsuits against each other on this issue for the next 10 years.
The ITC ruling had allowed a grace period to give companies time to switch suppliers. But the industry had argued that the import ban would complicate carmakers’ plans to launch electric vehicles as well as hybrids, and ultimately slow the industry’s transition to environmentally friendly vehicles.
Germany’s VW and US-based Ford each have contracts to purchase batteries from SK Innovation’s new electric vehicle battery plant in Commerce, Georgia. The factory has been touted as the biggest single investment in the southern state’s history, expected to provide 2,600 jobs and clean power for 330,000 vehicle a year, including Ford’s fully electric F-150 truck.
The settlement also marks the latest twist in a years-long battle between two fiercely competitive South Korean chaebol that had become an embarrassment for the government in Seoul.