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UPDATE 2-Ford CEO calls for settlement between LG Chem, SK Innovation

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David Shepardson
·2 min read
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(Adds statement from LG, SK and Volkswagen in the fourthparagraph)

By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Ford Motor Co's chiefexecutive, Jim Farley, on Thursday publicly encouraged SouthKorea's chemicals and electric vehicle (EV) battery maker LGChem Ltd and SK Innovation Co Ltd toreach a settlement on LG's battery allegations that SK stoletrade secrets.

The U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on Wednesdaysided with LG Chem, but permitted SK to import components fordomestic production of lithium ion batteries for Ford's EV F-150program for four years, and for Volkswagen of America'selectric vehicle line for two years.

"A voluntary settlement between these two suppliers isultimately in the best interest of US manufacturers andworkers," Farley wrote on Twitter, adding that "ITC ruling makesway for @Ford to bring to market our groundbreaking electricF-150."

LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation did not have comment onthe matter when reached by Reuters on Friday. Volkswagendeclined to comment.

The ITC said the decision would allow the automakers totransition to new suppliers for these programs.

LG Chem's wholly owned battery subsidiary, LG EnergySolution, an EV battery supplier to Tesla Inc andGeneral Motors Co, praised the ruling on Wednesday.

"SKI's total disregard of our warnings and intellectualproperty rights gave us no choice but to file this case," KimJong-hyun, the CEO of LG Energy Solution, said in a statement.

SK Innovation said on Wednesday it regretted the ITC'sdecision but noted there was a 60-day presidential review periodin which President Joe Biden could decide to reverse the ruling.Biden has made electric vehicles and reducing vehicle emissionsa top priority. The White House declined to comment.

Volkswagen and Ford previously warned a U.S. legal rowbetween South Korean battery makers could disrupt supplies ofthe key EV parts and cost U.S. jobs during the COVID-19pandemic.

Farley said last week on a conference call with analyststhat Ford's $22 billion investment in electrification does notinclude potential investment in battery production, whetherthrough Ford itself or via a joint venture.(Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington and Ben Klayman inDetroit; Additional reporting by Heekyong Yang in Seoul; Editingby Christopher Cushing)