Airlines

Korean Air to spend $1.6 billion to become Asiana Airlines' top shareholder

Key Points
  • Korean Air Lines will spend $1.62 billion to become the largest shareholder of Asiana Airlines.
  • The deal would create the world's 15th biggest carrier.
  • Korean Air plans to issue 2.5 trillion won worth of shares next year to fund the deal with buyers including its own parent, Hanjin Kal.
Employees stand in front of a Boeing Co. 787-9 Dreamliner passenger aircraft operated by Korean Air Lines Co.
SeongJoon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Korean Air Lines on Monday said it will spend 1.8 trillion won ($1.62 billion) to become the largest shareholder of indebted Asiana Airlines, in a deal that would create the world's 15th biggest carrier.

The suitor plans to issue 2.5 trillion won worth of shares next year to fund the deal with buyers including its own parent, Hanjin Kal.

It did not specify how it would spend the remainder. Asiana's state-run creditor Korea Development Bank (KDB) said the 2.5 trillion won will include liquidity and funds to conduct integration efforts such as the consolidation or closure of redundant businesses.

KDB also said it will invest 800 billion won in Hanjin Kal.

Korean Air is likely to buy the 30.77% stake in Asiana held by Kumho Industrial Co Ltd, Yonhap reported without citing sources.

Neither Kumho nor Asiana was immediately available to respond to Reuters' requests for comment.

Hanjin Kal's largest shareholder, the Korea Corporate Governance Improvement Fund (KCGI), has said any KDB investment would likely support current management. The activist fund favors replacing family-appointed executives with outsiders.

Combining South Korea's two biggest carriers would create the world's 15th largest airline based on the industry measure of kilometers flown by paying passengers, according to 2019 data from the International Air Transport Association. That represents a jump from 28th for Korean Air and 42nd for Asiana.

Asiana's share price soared 28.7% in Monday trade, while that of Korean Air rose 8.4% and Hanjin Kal rose 3%. The benchmark KOSPI was up 2%.