The latest news from South Korea suggests that local tyre distributor and retail network operator Tire Bank Co. Ltd. would like to purchase the Kumho Tire shareholding that China’s Qingdao Doublestar Tire is currently negotiating to acquire from creditors. The unexpected appearance of the Daejeon-based firm, which hinted it may bid together with one or more partners, further complicates an already drawn out and difficult transaction.
It won’t be a Good Friday for Kumho Tire if an agreement between its creditors and the labour union representing its workforce isn’t reached by the end of this week. Friday 30 March is the deadline set for a formal consensus regarding the sale of a 45 per cent share in the tyre maker to China’s Qingdao Doublestar Tire for KRW 646.3 billion (£421.7 million).
The Korea Development Bank (KDB) has denied finalising the sale of a 42.01 per cent share in Kumho Tire to Qingdao Doublestar Tire, but that’s exactly what we’d expect it to do until all the ‘i’s are dotted and ‘t’s crossed. Negotiations between Kumho Tire’s creditors and Doublestar recently recommenced, however The Korea Herald has quoted a KDB official as stating “nothing has been finalised.”
Creditors holding a 42.01 per cent share in Kumho Tire are going to look for a new owner – again. Some four months after Qingdao Doublestar Tire’s planned acquisition of the South Korean tyre maker collapsed, the Korea Development Bank (KDB) and the other creditors are said to be once more looking for an external investor.
Kumho Tire is no longer part of the Kumho Asiana Group. After submitting an application with the Korea Fair Trade Commission in November, on 29 December the tyre maker officially separated from the group as part of a restructuring programme organised by its creditors.
South Korean conglomerate SK Group has denied speaking with Kumho Tire creditor the Korea Development Bank about a potential acquisition. The denial was issued in response to an article published by a South Korean business daily that suggested SK Group was interested in acquiring around 30 per cent in the tyre maker through a KRW 700 billion (£478.6 million) capital increase.
Could a conglomerate of South Korean interests be looking at acquiring Kumho Tire? According to the Financial Times, local publication the Korea Economic Daily reports that a conglomerate has shown interest in doing just that through a rights offering.
A great deal of serious rallying takes place in Ireland, continually reminding us of the wealth of natural driving talent that exists on the island from which Paddy Hopkirk MBE emerged all those years ago. The conditions are often wet and slippery, and Kumho Tyres says this is a medium in which its competition tyres have frequently proved themselves the cream of the crop, adding that they often did once again in 2017.
A newspaper report suggesting that Kumho Tire may be placed under a court-led debt restructuring programme prompted an almost 30 per cent drop in the value of shares in the tyre maker yesterday. Reuters writes that, according to an article published by South Korean newspaper Segye Ilbo, main Kumho Tire creditor the Korea Development Bank is considering requesting a pre-packaged restructuring plan. Such a plan may result in Kumho entering into court-administered receivership.
As expected, Kim Jong-ho has returned as chief executive officer of Kumho Tire. The former company president and chief executive officer was named the tyre maker’s new chairman and chief executive officer at an extraordinary meeting of shareholders. It is understood that he will hold this position for a three-year term.
While Park Sam-koo won’t bid to acquire the Kumho Tire shareholding currently held by its creditors, he already holds one particular asset, and he’s not willing to simply let go of it. Through subsidiary Kumho Industrial, the Kumho Asiana Group chairman controls rights to the Kumho brand name. Park is prepared to allow whoever acquires the 42.01 per cent share in Kumho Tire to use the Kumho name – provided they pay for the privilege. This is a point that will likely complicate any potential sale.
At a press conference in Seoul today, Kumho Asiana Group Chairman Park Sam-koo stated he has no intention to acquire the share in Kumho Tire currently controlled by the Korea Development Bank and other creditors. Although originally interested in purchasing the 42.01 per cent stake, Park has relinquished his first right of refusal.
Kim Jong-ho will likely return as president and chief executive officer of Kumho Tire. The 70-year old, who held these positions from 2009 until his retirement in 2012, has been recalled by the tyre maker’s creditors to head the loss-making company. During his previous tenure, Kim led Kumho Tire through the early years of its debt workout programme. The creditors will seek approval for Kim’s appointment at a Kumho Tire extraordinary shareholders’ meeting on 1 December.
According to a study carried out for Kumho Tire, sales of all-season tyres in the UK are only a little over half the European average. Kumho contracted market research institute GfK to look at all-season tyre sales in ten European countries; GfK found that four per cent of tyre buyers in the UK opted for all-season products.
Leo W. Gerard, president of US-based trade union the United Steelworkers (USW), has sent a letter to South Korea’s President in which he raises concerns about Kumho Tire’s dealings with its workforce in the United States. The USW comments that this correspondence with Moon Jae-in addresses Kumho’s “union-busting actions towards its workers” and asks the South Korean government to intervene and “ensure that the workers are free to exercise their democratic rights.”