ERJ staff report (TB)
Rancho Cucamonga, California -- Kumho Tire Co. Inc., which has been in a financial vise grip for months and barely avoided receivership, has reached a final agreement with its unionised workers in South Korea, averting any further possibility of a strike at its three factories there.
According to executives with the company's Rancho Cucamonga-based Kumho Tire USA Inc. distribution arm, the union voted to accept Kumho's proposal, with final details to be ironed out in the coming days. The agreement will then be presented to the parent company's board of creditors.
Earlier, the union had rejected a wage agreement with management that included salary cuts and threatened to go on strike. The new pact calls for a wage cut in 2010, a Kumho Tire USA spokesman said, adding: â€œWe donÂ´t have exact details yet but base salary reduction is up to 15 percent. Additional concessions were made in bonuses and benefits.â€
The resolution between Seoul, South Korea-based Kumho Tire, that country's second-largest tyre maker, and its union will bring an infusion of $100 million in immediate funds to the company and begin the process of Kumho's creditors supplying more than $450 million in fresh loans as part of a debt restructuring â€œworkoutâ€ program.
â€œThe agreement brings forth renewed energy for Kumho Tire USA and starts us on the road to improvements in efficiency and overall competitivenessâ€ said J.B. Kim, president and C.E.O. of Kumho Tire USA
In late December Kumho Asiana Group agreed with its main creditor to put two of the group's affiliates-Kumho Industrial Co. and Kumho Tires-into a â€œdebt workoutâ€ procedure to ease the group's cash shortage, exacerbated by its acquisition in 2006 of Daewoo Engineering and Construction Co. That process, practiced in South Korea, does not involve the country's court system, and allows a company and creditors to work together to address their issues. The work-out is permitted for companies that are presumed to have a high possibility of business normalisation but have suffered temporary difficulties in repaying loans to financial institutions, Kumho explained at the time.
Earlier this year, at Kumho Tire USA's annual dealer meeting, J.H. Kim, president and CEO of Kumho Tire, reassured dealers that â€œKumho is here to stay,â€ and despite the parent firm's financial struggles, â€œwe have sufficient supplies for all our customers.â€
The company operates a central distribution facility in Rancho Cucamonga and four additional warehouses in Atlanta, Chicago, Dallas and New Brunswick, N.J.
From Tire Business (A Crain publication)