Park Chan-koo has been dismissed as chairman of Kumho Asiana’s phetrochemical operations in a vote by board members.
By Oh Young-jin
A sibling dispute over the control of Kumho Asiana Group has taken a turn for the worse after the younger brother made clear his intention to take the matter to court.
In a statement Monday, Park Chan-koo, who was dismissed as chairman of the group's petrochemical division in a hastily-arranged board meeting, accused his elder brother Park Sam-koo of keeping him in the dark about the top agenda item of the board meeting ― his dismissal.
Park Sam-koo stepped down as group chairman and promised to give up his post as CEO once Daewoo Construction & Engineering has been sold.
The younger brother said that his elder brother applied pressure to board members to conspire to kick him off the board by forcing members to identify themselves in a vote, while raising legal questions over his nephew's stock purchases.
Park Chan-koo also didn't leave any question as to his right to take both his elder brother and nephew to court.
Aides to the former chairman as well as the new chairman, Park Chan-bup, the professional top manager with no relations with the Park family, argued that there would not be a court battle.
``It is a family affair with no family member supporting Park Chan-koo,'' a senior Kumho official told The Korea Times. ``Former Chairman Park Sam-koo will give up his CEO status once the Daewoo issue is settled.''
The Daewoo issue was the last straw that triggered the sibling dispute. Kumho took it over but was forced to give it up after it couldn't keep its promises made to stakeholders. This left Chan-koo the room to jockey for control of the group together with his son.
The four sons of the founder of Kumho Asiana Group, which owns Korea's No. 2 air carrier Asiana Airlines, had made a gentleman's agreement to co-manage the group by sharing stakes in group subsidiaries.
However, Park Chan-koo sold his entire stake in Kumho Industrial, a construction unit of Kumho Asiana, and increased his stake in Korea Kumho Petrochemical, the de facto holding company of the group.
Kumho Asiana has been dogged by growing concerns over liquidity since it bought a 72.11 percent stake in Daewoo Engineering & Construction, then Korea's top builder, in June 2006.
Kumho Asiana said in June that it will sell its stake and other assets in an effort to ride out a cash shortage.