No end in sight for divorce at Kumho Group
[NEWS IN FOCUS] Kumho Petrochemical badly wants out of the group, but parent says not so fast
금호그룹 끝나지 않은 '형제의 난'
A family feud between major shareholders is creating uncertainty over the future of Kumho Asiana Group. Elder brother Park Sam-koo, Kumho Asiana Group chairman, and his younger brother Park Chan-koo, Kumho Petrochemical chairman, are in the midst of a fight over the timing of Kumho Petrochemical’s split from the group and the affiliates that would be included.
While Kumho Asiana Group agrees in principal with Kumho Petrochemical’s exit, the former is delaying, saying it is more important to normalize the group’s operations before letting the chemical company split from the group.
In January 2010, the group’s major creditors, Kumho Asiana Group chairman and Kumho Petrochemical chairman, agreed in principle to divide Kumho Petrochemical and its subsidiaries from Kumho Group. Park Sam-koo and his family concurred to sell their stakes in Kumho Petrochemical and instead to buy shares in Kumho Tire.
Kumho Group’s creditors, led by Korea Development Bank, also demanded that Kumho Asiana Group submit a plan yesterday on how it will divest its stake in Kumho Petrochemical, but it appears the deadline was missed. A spokesperson for Kumho refused to confirm whether it submitted the plan or not, only saying “it is going to discuss the matter with creditors.”
“There is no change in our intention to separate Kumho Petrochemical. But considering the effect of selling off the group’s stake in Kumho Petrochemical, we need to take our time,” the Kumho Asiana Group spokesperson said.
Kumho Asiana is thought to be dragging its feet because Kumho Petrochemical is one of the few affiliates of the group that is making a large profit.
Kumho Group asked creditors to restructure its debt when it suffered a major liquidity problem after acquiring Daewoo Engineering and Construction several years ago.
Park Chan-koo and his son Park Joon-kyung, a Kumho Petrochemical executive, together hold 16.29 percent of Kumho Petrochemical, while Park Sam-koo and his son Park Se-chang, a Kumho Tire executive, control 10.45 percent of the company.
With a liquidity problem at Kumho Industrial, the group’s de facto holding company, and Kumho Tire, the group’s creditors ended up taking control of the two companies after a capital reduction.
As a result, Kumho Asiana Group’s holdings in Kumho Industrial and Kumho Tire declined to 3 percent and 9 percent, respectively.
Park Sam-koo retired as group chairman in July 2009 to take responsibility for the group’s liquidity crisis, but returned to his post in November 2010 to regain power of the group. That irked Kumho Petrochemical.
Without a plan in place to spin off Kumho Petrochemical, despite promises to do so, the chemical company went on the offensive recently. On March 18, it asked the Fair Trade Commission to rule that Kumho Tire and Kumho Industrial are not legally a part of Kumho Asiana Group, because the group’s stake in Kumho Industrial and Kumho Tire fell below the 30 percent threshold. Under the Fair Trade Law, a company is considered an affiliate of a conglomerate if the conglomerate owns 30 percent or more of it.
However, the antitrust agency concluded on June 17 that Kumho Industrial and Kumho Tire belong to the group, despite the 30 percent threshold clause. The FTC said that executives appointed by Kumho Asiana Group Chairman Park Sam-koo still manage the two companies and thus they are part of the same corporate entity.
Kumho Petrochemical said it will appeal the decision.
Meanwhile, Kumho Petrochemical has taken steps to prepare its exit from the group. It discontinued the use of Kumho Asiana Group’s logo and no longer does business with Asiana IDT, the group’s IT and system integration service company.
Kumho Petrochemical filed a lawsuit on June 7 against Kumho Asiana Group and its executives for making false statements about Park Chan-koo over a suspected slush fund.
Prosecutors at the Seoul Southern District Prosecutors’ Office questioned Park Chan-koo over an alleged slush fund and making money from insider information.
Park is suspected of having created the 30 billion won ($27.8 million) slush fund by paying the company’s contractors for phony jobs, or overpaying them and then getting the money back.
By Limb Jae-un [email@example.com]한글 관련 기사
[이데일리]금호석유, 금호산업 지분 매각 완료
"금호산업·금호타이어 전량 매각 방침..분리경영 일환"
금호석유화학이 금호산업 지분 매각을 완료했다.
금호석유(011780)화학은 1일~5일 보유중이던 금호산업(002990) 보통주 9만4000주(0.08%)를 장내매도를 통해 처분했다고 6일 공시했다. 이로써 금호석유화학은 금호산업 지분을 전량 처분했다.
같은기간 금호타이어 보통주 15만주(0.16%)도 장내 매각했다. 잔여주식 37만2600주(0.39%)도 조만간 매각한다는 방침이다.
금호석유화학은 앞서 지난 5월11일 이사회를 통해 금호타이어와 금호산업 지분을 전량 처분하기로 결의하고 주식을 지속적으로 팔아치웠다.
금호석유화학 관계자는 지분 매각 배경에 대해 "금호아시아나그룹과 분리경영의 일환"이라고 말했다.
금호아시아나그룹은 지난해 초 채권단과 합의한 그룹 분리경영 방안에 따라 금호석유화학은 박찬구 회장 부자와 고 박정구 명예회장 장남인 박철완 금호석유화학 상무보가 공동 경영하고，금호산업과 금호타이어, 아시아나항공 등은 박삼구 회장 부자가 맡아 경영하고 있다.
최근에는 금호석유화학이 공정거래위원회에 `완전한 결별`을 의미하는 계열분리 신청서를 제출했다가 기각돼 양측의 갈등이 고조되면서 형제의 난이 재연됐다. 박찬구 회장이 비자금 조성 의혹으로 검찰에 세 차례 소환돼 조사를 받은 가운데 박찬구 회장 측은 이번 검찰 수사가 형인 박삼구 회장 측 인사들의 허위 진술에서 비롯됐다면서 박삼구 회장을 비롯한 측근 인사들을 검찰에 고발했다.