[THE INVESTOR] The Korea Development Bank, the main creditor of the ailing Kumho Tire, said on March 25 that it has never received or offered an acquisition deal involving a local company, denying claims by unionized workers at the tiremaker.
“Since opening Doublestar’s intention to invest, the KDB has neither contacted any Korean companies to attract investment, nor was it offered a takeover deal from local firms,” it said in a statement.
“If interested in normalizing the operation of Kumho Tire and making an investment in the company, it is appropriate to present such intent to the KDB, the major creditor or Kumho Tire.”
The statement came after a claim by the union that a local conglomerate has reached out to companies in Gwangju to acquire Kumho Tire under the same conditions as those of Doublestar.
The union also cast doubts on Doublestar’s motive on acquiring the tiremaker, saying it has no clear and transparent business operation plan.
The union recently received a six-page-long document about Doublestar’s future business plan from Kumho Tire’s main creditor Korea Development Bank, but the paper listed “nothing new but basic information,” the union said.
“We will only talk after examining Doublestar’s concrete investment plans and job security programs, as well as specific figures for production capacity, financial statement, business prospects, facility investment and outlook on Kumho Tire’s market share for next five years,” an official from the union told a local media outlet.
The labor remained adamant over the weekend, despite a visit by Doublestar Chairman Chai Yongsen on Friday. The Chinese executive traveled to Gwangju for possible talks but returned home without any result, as the union refused to talk with him.
They instead went on a second strike and staged a rally Saturday, continuing to urge the company to withdraw its plan to sell the company to Doublestar Tire.
Over 70,000 workers and civic activists gathered in Gwangju, home to Kumho Tire’s main domestic plant, to oppose the foreign acquisition of the financially troubled company, according to the union.
The union representing 3,100 assembly line workers at Kumho Tire’s three domestic plants also demanded Doublestar to provide an objective document detailing its business plan that can assure job security for the next 10 years.
While the clock is ticking on the creditors-set deadline of March 23, the union is trying to delay the deadline by making up a story, a Kumho Tire official said.
“While union workers retain no shareholding in the company, it is nonsense for a local conglomerate to let the union know about the deal, leaving out the main creditor and the company. It is just a rumor created by the union,” the official said.
If the union does not approve of the acquisition deal by Friday, Kumho Tire will go into a workout process. The 646 million won (US$594 million) deal would give Doublestar a 45 percent stake in Kumho Tire, making it the largest shareholder, followed by creditors’ 23.1 percent.
By Kim Da-sol/The Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org)