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Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Won-tae reelected as executive director of Hanjin KAL

Both Hanjin KAL, Korean Air board also formed favorable to Cho Won-tae

Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Won-tae (Hanjin KAL)
Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Won-tae (Hanjin KAL)

Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Won-tae was reappointed as executive director of Hanjin KAL, the holding company of Hanjin Group that owns Korean Air, on Friday, a much anticipated result despite a monthslong tug-of-war with his sister Cho Hyun-ah over the management control.

According to Hanjin KAL, Cho garnered 56 percent approval during the shareholders meeting held at Hanjin KAL headquarters in Seoul on Friday. About 43 percent were against him holding the post. 

Despite concerns to maintain social distancing amid the COVID-19 spread, 3,619 shareholders participated in the regular shareholders meeting, including those with proxy statements. Around 100 shareholders were physically at the meeting. Their combined shares accounted for 84.93 percent.

The meeting was delayed for more than three hours to check and compare the participants and their proxy statements.

Neither Cho Won-tae nor his older sister and former Korean Air Vice President Cho Hyun-ah, who had formed an anti-chairman coalition to stop her brother’s management control, showed up at the meeting. 

For Hanjin KAL’s outside directors, all five candidates suggested by the current Hanjin KAL board -- including former Financial Services Commission Chairman Kim Seok-dong -- were approved, while all four candidates proposed by the anti-chairman coalition fell through in failing to gain majority approval.

Along with Cho, executive director candidate Ha Eun-yong, who was proposed from the current chairman‘s side, was also elected. 

On Friday, shareholders also agreed to change Korean Air’s standing rule to allow the appointment of the executive director by earning 50 percent approval. 

This will make it easier for Cho Won-tae to get reelected as Korean Air executive director next year, industry experts viewed. 

Formerly, such appointments had to receive two-thirds approval from attending shareholders. The elevated margin led former Chairman Cho Yang-ho to lose his executive director seat last year. 

Also, shareholders agreed to appoint Korean Air’s outside director Chung Gap-young as the chairperson of the management board, in a move to reinforce transparent corporate structure and protect shareholders’ rights, according to Korean Air.

Chung, a former president of Yonsei University, is an economic expert who has served various positions at economic institutes and the Industry Ministry.

For executive directors, both Korean Air President Woo Kee-hong and Korean Air Vice President Lee Soo-geun were reappointed. 

For outside directors, along with Chung Gap-young, Korea University professor Cho Myung-hyun and Standard Chartered Bank Korea adviser Park Hyun-joo have been newly appointed. 

Korean Air said it has added one more seat to the outside director position to increase the board’s independence, diversity and expertise.

By Kim Da-sol (ddd@heraldcorp.com)
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