Tension in information sharing over GM's Korea unit audit: South Korea government official

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's vice finance minister said on Thursday there is tension between General Motors' South Korean unit and the Korea Development Bank because the U.S. automaker isn't sharing internal information about the company needed for the bank to carry out due diligence.

"My understanding is that there is tension (in the due diligence)," Vice Finance Minister Ko Hyoung-kwon told reporters after a meeting in Seoul.

The audit on GM Korea's finances, which started earlier this month, will inform the South Korean government's decision on whether to provide support for the Detroit carmaker's loss-making Korean operations.

General Motors has offered to convert debt of around $2.7 billion owed by its ailing South Korean operation into equity in exchange for financial support and tax benefits from Seoul.

"In order to carry out due diligence, which is a difficult process, we need company information but I think (GM Korea) finds it difficult to share information about global strategies (with the KDB)," Ko said.

The state-run KDB, the second-biggest shareholder of GM Korea with a 17 percent stake, said that it was willing to offer short-term loans to GM Korea after April, should the company cooperate on the due diligence exercise.

The restructuring plan will see GM's plant in Gunsan will shut down by May. Among its four plants, only one is running at full capacity and the other two are running at 50 and 70 percent of their capacity.

GM Korea, which employs nearly 16,000 people, has previously said that without new funding from its major shareholders it would have a first-quarter "cash crisis".

(Reporting by Cynthia Kim; Editing by Paul Tait & Shri Navaratnam)

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