Despite opposition from the National Pension Service (NPS), Cho Won-tae, chairman of Hanjin Group, was re-elected as an internal director at the annual general meeting of Korean Air held on March 21st.

The meeting was conducted at Korean Air’s headquarters in Gangseo-gu, Seoul, where it was decided to reappoint Chairman Cho as an internal director. The NPS, the second-largest shareholder of Korean Air, had previously opposed his reappointment.

Chairman Cho /Hanjin
Chairman Cho /Hanjin

On March 14th, the NPS Fund Management Committee had stated that they opposed the reappointment of Chairman Cho due to negligence in monitoring acts infringing on shareholder rights. They also expressed opposition to the approval of the director’s remuneration limit, stating it was excessive in light of the company’s performance.

The committee had also opposed Cho’s reappointment in 2021, accusing Korean Air of neglecting its duty to monitor shareholder interests due to unfavorable terms in the acquisition contract of Asiana Airlines. However, at this year’s general meeting, the NPS was unable to prevent Cho’s reappointment due to the majority stake held by Hanjin Kal (26.13%) and other Cho-friendly shares exceeding 30%.

Chairman Cho’s term as an internal director is three years. The proposal for the appointment of Pyo In-soo and Heo Yoon as external directors and the approval of the director’s remuneration limit were also passed as originally planned. The remuneration for all directors was frozen at 9 billion won annually.

Chairman Cho did not attend the general meeting. Instead, President Woo Ki-hong read a statement on his behalf stating, “This will be a very important year as we prepare to launch the integrated airline. We are thoroughly preparing to complete the merger review process as soon as possible and lead a successful integration”.

The merger review of Korean Air and Asiana Airlines has been approved by 13 of the 14 mandatory reporting countries, with approval from the United States still pending.