State gas firm aims to cut 10.5 tln won in debt by 2017

SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's state-run gas corporation said Sunday that it aims to slash 10.5 trillion won (US$9.9 billion) in debt by 2017 through asset sales and the reorganization of business operations.

Korea Gas Corp. (KOGAS) said 8.2 trillion won will be cut by revising projects under way at home and abroad, with sales of assets contributing 800 billion won.

The public corporation said it is contemplating the sale of its 47 percent stake in an Iraqi gas well, worth some 370 billion won, with smaller foreign operations in Canada and Uzbekistan also to be sold off to generate cash.

KOGAS also said it may dispose of its headquarters buildings in Bundang, just south of Seoul, as well as its training institute in Goseong, 466 kilometers southeast of the capital city.

In addition, the public company said it will issue 750 billion won in new corporate bonds with another 400 billion won to come from attracting resources development funds from abroad.

Fringe benefits given to employees will be slashed by 21.7 percent to 3.52 million won per year, with changes made in the severance pay system to reduce overall outlays for the company.

KOGAS said that if the debt reduction measures are carried out without a hitch, the cooperation's debt ratio, which stands at 385 percent, will fall to 249 percent in 2017. The firm's debts totaled 32.25 trillion won at the end of 2012.

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