Hanjin KAL’s chairman gets support from execs

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Hanjin KAL’s chairman gets support from execs

Former executives of Hanjin Group endorsed Chairman Cho Won-tae and current management as they wage a battle for control with the chairman’s sister, Cho Hyun-ah.

Unions at Hanjin Group and its affiliates offered support for the chairman earlier this week.

Around 500 former executives of Hanjin Group announced in a statement Friday that they “fully trust and support the current management centered on Chairman Cho Won-tae.”

The ex-executives said the current Hanjin Group management consists of experts armed with “decades of the best experience and know-how” in the local and global airline and logistics industries.

“Despite the challenging business environment, Hanjin Group has been sailing well without trembling,” the council said.

“As for Korean Air Lines, the company was the only local airline that achieved a profit when other domestic airlines faced operating losses.”

The statement emphasized that current management must not be replaced, saying it would be impossible to replace them with “outsiders ignorant of the business.”

The former executives denounced the alliance of Cho Hyun-ah, older sister of the chairman, Bando Engineering & Construction and Korea Corporate Governance Improvement and its attempt to assume control of the business and install professional managers.

Those three entities own a combined 37 percent of Hanjin KAL, which owns 30 percent of Korean Air Lines.

“The three-way coalition is nothing but collusion among a former large shareholder, a private equity fund that can’t even say how its actions will maximize profits and a typical stockjobber that tries to shake up management with investments in unrelated fields,” the statement said.

The group said the coalition will “tear the company into pieces.” It went on to argue that Hanjin Group, with 75 years of experience in leading Korea’s cargo and logistics businesses, shouldn’t be shaken by outside forces.

The Friday statement from former executives increases the possibility of Cho Won-tae winning the battle of the siblings for control of the group and its main company, Korean Air Lines.

Cho Hyun-ah lost key support Tuesday when a board director nominee she proposed flipped sides and pledged support to Cho Won-tae. The three-way coalition also held a press conference Thursday to blast the current chairman and his ability to lead the airline conglomerate.

BY KO JUN-TAE [ko.juntae@joongang.co.kr]

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