General Motors remains the best hope for rescuing bankrupt Daewoo Motor Co., the head of Daewoo's U.S. operations said.
All Hyundai factories are in Korea, while Daewoo made a quest for local production points. But Lee doubts Hyundai will get any of Daewoo's Korean assets, as it would give the automaker a near-monopoly in its home market.
That capital-draining global expansion is one reason Daewoo is carrying $18 billion in debt. Earlier this week, Daewoo put its Worthing, England, technical center up for sale.
Lee predicted GM will absorb Daewoo's sales and product development operations into its own.
He spoke with Automotive News during lunch Friday at the J.D. Power and Associates International Automotive Roundtable at the Four Seasons Hotel.
"They are just waiting for Daewoo to lay off 6,000 workers," Lee said. Daewoo is halfway to that target, which may be reached this month. Daewoo unions have organized strikes in protest.
Lee doesn't think GM buying Daewoo after killing Oldsmobile is hypocritical.
"GM needs small cars, not more medium-sized cars. They need Daewoo," Lee said. "We are a rising sun. Oldsmobile's sun had set."