Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Won-tae, left picture, and his sister of heiress Cho Hyun-ah. Photo courtesy of Hanjin Kal

Heiress-headed alliance tries to persuade Delta Air

A coalition led by Hanjin Group heiress Cho Hyun-ah tries to persuade Delta Air Lines not to support Hanjin Chairman Cho Won-tae during the forthcoming shareholders’ meeting late this month.

In a press release this week, the three-way partnership asked Delta to “make a wise decision for the future of Hanjin.” Delta owns more than 10 percent stake in Hanjin Kal, the holding firm of Hanjin Group.

Hanjin Kal is scheduled to hold shareholders’ meeting late this month when the two siblings are expected to stage a proxy battle. Against this backdrop, Delta’s share is significant.

The U.S. airline is believed to side with Chairman Cho. But if it does not vote for Chairman Cho, he may lose at the proxy war _ the best scenario for the three-way coalition.

The coalition is composed of the Korea Corporate Governance Improvement (KCGI), an activist fund, and Bando Engineering & Construction, the country’s mid-sized builder, on top of heiress Cho Hyun-ah.

Their combined stake is about 37 percent compared to some 39 percent of Chairman Cho and his aides, including Delta.

The coalition has come up with request that the Hanjin Kal board should reshuffle and kicking out Chairman Cho due to the mounting debt of Korean Air, the major affiliate of Hanjin.

Delta said last year that its acquisition of Hanjin Kal shares was not geared toward affecting the outfit’s management,” the coalition said. “We believe Delta will forge partnership with Hanjin Kal chief executives who we recommend.”

Observers point out that Delta is widely believed to back Chairman Cho. But it remains to be seen what strategy the U.S. company would employ late this month, they said.