LG Energy Solution to invest $4.5bln in U.S. battery production

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The logo of LG Chem is seen at its office building in Seoul, South Korea, October 16, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

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WASHINGTON, March 11 (Reuters) - South Korea's LG Energy Solution plans to invest more than $4.5 billion in its U.S. battery production business over the next four years, including plans to build at least two new plants, a senior executive said on Thursday.

Denise Gray, president of LG Energy Solution's Michigan unit, said the company's investment will result in an additional 70GWh of U.S. battery production capacity to respond to growth in the electric vehicle market.

"We are eager to expand our production capacity so that it can meet the needs of the numerous global automakers across the U.S. and Europe," Gray said. "We are looking at least two new factories in the United States."

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Gray said the planned investment would create 4,000 new U.S. jobs, more than doubling the current combined workforce of the LG Chem (051910.KS) unit and its joint venture with General Motors (GM.N)in the country.

The company plans to select plant locations in the first half of the year, Gray said, adding their construction would create around 6,000 indirect jobs.

LG is already nearing completion of a cell manufacturing plant in Ohio with GM and the pair are in advanced talks to build a second facility in Tennessee. LG said on Friday the second plant would have a similar production capacity of around 35GWh. read more

LG has been embroiled in a high-profile dispute with rival South Korean firm SK Innovation (096770.KS) in the United States after LG alleged that SK stole trade secrets.

The U.S. International Trade Commission last month issued a 10-year order prohibiting most U.S. imports of SK lithium-ion batteries. SK has lobbied the White House to overturn the ban, which could also be negated by SK and LG reaching an independent settlement. read more

LG Energy Solution Senior Vice President Chang Seung-se said the company's latest U.S. plans were unrelated and "more about (having a) very proactive and preemptive investment plan prior to confirmation of demand from our customers."

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Reporting by David Shepardson

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