Sons promoted at leading airliners

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Sons promoted at leading airliners

The nation’s leading airline companies are seeing favorite sons climb up in the rank as part of their ownership succession.

According to the Korean Air (KAL) on Sunday, the company’s vice chairman, Cho Won-tae, son of the Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Yang-ho, was appointed CEO of KAL in a board meeting held after the Friday’s regular shareholders’ meeting.

KAL has been managed by three individuals - Chairman Cho, President Ji Chang-hoon and Vice President Lee Sang-gyun - but it looks like the company is preparing to shift power from the chairman to his only son. KAL affiliate Korea Airport Service also appointed Cho Won-tae as its new CEO on the same day.

Cho was named as the vice chairman of KAL in January’s reshuffle and has been the head of Hanjin Kal, the holding company of Hanjin Group, since 2014.

“It is a part of our tradition to give more and more responsibilities to members of our leadership,” said a spokesman of KAL.

Kumho Asiana Group, which runs the Asiana Airlines, will appoint Park Se-chang, the eldest son of the group’s chairman, Park Sam-koo, as a registered board director of Kumho Industrial, the group’s de facto holding company, in a regular shareholders’ meeting scheduled on March 28.

The younger Park is also a co-CEO of Kumho Tire.

Last year, Chairman Park cemented his control over the group and its key affiliates, one of those moves being the reacquisition of the holding company.

Control of the Kumho Industrial gives the chairman command over the group’s other key affiliates such as Asiana Airlines, Air Busan, Kumho Terminal and Asiana IDT.

The elder Chairman Park is currently aiming to regain his ownership of Kumho Tire by purchasing a 42.1 percent stake in the tire maker owned by majority shareholders, including the Korea Development Bank, at an expected cost of more than 1 trillion won ($858 million).

The company recently created a task force to accomplish the mission, which was transferred to the Kumho Industrial so that the chairman’s son can directly manage it.

The group is already squeezed, as it spent 722.8 billion won on regaining Kumho Industrial in December. An additional 1 trillion won will likely be hard to scrape together.

“It must be hard to find friendly investors since there are not many conglomerates capable of taking over a company worth 1 trillion won,” said an analyst in a financial institution.

BY KWON SANG-SOO [kwon.sangsoo@joongang.co.kr]



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