Fraternal feud at Kumho unabated by court ruling

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Fraternal feud at Kumho unabated by court ruling

A fraternal feud between the sons of late Kumho Group founder Park In-cheon over management looks set to continue after a court ruled that two of its affiliates legally fall under the control of the older son, effectively giving him the power to meddle in his brother’s affairs.

Park died over a decade ago and his offspring have been involved in a dispute for several years over the management of various group affiliates, a matter complicated by cross-shareholdings.

The two brothers tried to break away from the group in 2010 by forming Kumho Asiana Group and Kumho Petrochemical Group.

However, two affiliates of the former - Kumho Tire and Kumho Industrial - own enough shares in the latter to interfere in its managerial decisions.

To free himself from his older brother’s control, Kumho Petrochemical Group Chairman Park Chan-koo asked the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) in June to classify the two affiliates as separate companies from Kumho Asiana, the group run by his brother Park Sam-koo.

Chan-koo argued that Kumho Asiana did not own enough shares to control them, but the FTC disagreed.

Kumho Petrochemical responded by filing a lawsuit with the High Court challenging the decision, but the court threw another spanner in the works yesterday by siding with the FTC.

A spokesman for Kumho Petrochemical said it would appeal the High Court ruling by taking the case to the Supreme Court.

A key part of the dispute revolves around which brother can lay legal claim to the name “Kumho,” as all affiliates of the original Kumho Group have to pay 0.2 percent of their monthly sales to Kumho Industrial to use the trademark. However, Kumho Petrochemical has refused to pay the fee for two years, saying it co-owns the name.

By Joo Kyung-don []
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