Sale of Kumho Tire Hits a Snag

The sale of Kumho Tire to Chinese tiremaker Qingdao Doublestar Co. could go back to the drawing board, potentially opening an opportunity for Park Sam-koo, chairman of Kumho Asiana Group, to exercise his buyback rights after all.

According to reports in The Korea Bizwire and The Korean Times, Qingdao Doublestar Co. has demanded that creditors cut its price by 16.2%, citing Kumho’s poor performance in the first half of 2017. Under the terms of the agreement with creditors, Qingdao Doublestar has the right to cancel the deal if Kumho Tire’s operating profit falls more than 15 percent on year as of Sept. 23, 2017 when the contract ends.

In March, Qingdao Doublestar signed a deal with the creditors, led by state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB), to buy a 42.01 percent stake in Kumho Tire for 955 billion won ($838.5 million USD). After months of bitter dispute over the use of Kumho Tire’s brand, the Chinese company early last week moved the deal into its final stages, submitting documents to the South Korean government for approval of the acquisition; however, Qingdao Doublestar demanded that creditors slash the price.

In the first six months of this year, Kumho Tire suffered an operating loss of 50.7 billion won (approx. $44.5 million USD), compared with a profit of 55.8 billion won (approx. $49 million USD) for the same period last year.

According to the The Korean Times, creditors are widely expected to accept Doublestar’s demand because if they don’t, the deal will fall apart.

It remains unclear whether the creditors will accept the demand or not, according to the official.

If the creditors do accept Qingdao Doublestar’s demand, it would allow Park, chairman of Kumho Asiana Group, parent of Kumho Tire, to exercise his right to buy back the tiremaker. If a new stock purchase agreement (SPA) is signed at the discounted price, the banks will have to notify Kumho’s Park of the sales price and other conditions, giving him one more chance to exercise his buyback right.

Once notified, Park will have to let creditors know within 30 days whether he will pay a higher price or give up his right.