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.
On Friday, we reported that Chinese tyre maker Qingdao Doublestar Tire was angling for a ten per cent discount on the 42.01 per cent stake in Kumho Tire it wishes to acquire. Not so, wrote The Korea Times over the weekend – according to its sources, Doublestar wants creditors to cut the price to KRW 800 billion (£544.6 million), a discount of 16.2 per cent on the original bid price.
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?
According to industry sources, Kumho Tires’ creditors will return the agreement on use of the Kumho brand name to Kumho Industrial this week ahead of a planned signing of a contract before the end of the month.
Negotiations over the use of the Kumho brand name are drawing to a conclusion, with Park Sam-Koo and the board of Kumho Industrial Co. announcing their final offer following a meeting yesterday. This offer centres on the payment of 0.5 per cent of Kumho Tire’s sales in brand royalties for 12.5 years and a clause ensuring that Doublestar uses the Kumho name for the entire period.
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.
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.
Moon Jae-in is South Korea’s new President, and this may be bad news for Qingdao Doublestar and its efforts to acquire a controlling share in Kumho Tire. In an article published earlier today, The Korea Times explored the possibility that Moon may prevent the Chinese tyre maker from acquiring Doublestar. According to the financial daily, analysts consider this a very real threat to the deal.
The latest development in the negotiations to sell a stake in Kumho Tire is that potential buyer Qingdao Doublestar Tire probably won’t, after handing over KRW 955 billion (£653.6 million) for the 42.01 per cent controlling share, be permitted to use the Kumho name.
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.
Park Sam-koo says he won’t acquire a controlling stake in Kumho Tire from creditors unless they provide a definitive answer on specific conditions of sale. In a statement, Kumho Asiana has given the Korea Development Bank until 17 April to do this, otherwise it will not exercise its right of first refusal.