Just when it seemed the sale of a controlling stake in Kumho Tire to Qingdao Doublestar Tire was in the bag, the Chinese tyre maker has surprised everyone with its demand that Kumho Tire’s creditors reduce their KRW 955 billion (£650.3 million) bid price by ten per cent. Will this cause the deal to fall apart?
Although it’s probably too early for champagne corks to pop, progress has been made in the Kumho Tire shareholding negotiations. Yonhap News Agency writes that the tyre maker’s creditors have “tentatively agreed to accept original proposals” made by Kumho Asiana, adding that this may pave the way for creditors to complete the sale of the 42.01 per cent shareholding to Qingdao Doublestar Tire.
Qingdao Doublestar Tire’s bid to acquire 42.01 per cent of South Korean tyre maker Kumho Tire is developing into a drama of the sort not witnessed since a stubborn Cooper Chengshan Tire helped derail Apollo Tyres’ purchase of Cooper Tire & Rubber. Business Korea writes today that 41 Kumho Tire executives, including chief executive officer Lee Han-seob, intend to resign should Kumho Tire’s creditors sell the share to Doublestar.
The unflattering evaluation Korea Development Bank (KDB) gave Kumho Tire on 7 July has ruffled feathers within the tyre maker’s management, and Kumho Tire intends to take legal action against what it considers a rating artificially given to achieve a specific purpose.
It’s more than two months since Qingdao Doublestar Tire was named the preferred bidder to acquire a 42.01 per cent share in Kumho Tire, yet a satisfactory agreement remains elusive. The most contentious point has been the use of the Kumho brand name, with rightsholder Kumho Industrial demanding 0.5 per cent of Kumho Tire’s revenues for 20 years for use of the name – significantly more than the 0.2 per cent for five years as previously agreed between Doublestar Tire and Kumho Tire’s creditors.
Use of the Kumho brand name was certainly a factor motivating Qingdao Doublestar Tire’s bid for a share in the Korean tyre maker. Although selected as the winning bidder, uncertainty now hangs over the terms under which the Chinese manufacturer can use the Kumho name, and this may suffice for Doublestar to walk away from the deal. Kumho Tire’s creditors are attempting to broker a compromise.
Park Sam-koo won’t exercise his right of first refusal to acquire a stake in Kumho Tire. The Kumho Asiana Group chairman has described the Korea Development Bank’s decision to prevent him from funding the acquisition through formation of a consortium as “unfair,” and as a result Kumho Asiana has opted against participating in the sale of the 42.01 per cent shareholding.