Veteran researchers, who worked at Kumho Tire for more than 10 years, recently moved to China’s Doublestar with an exceptionally good conditions. Doublestar already drained key players of Kumho Tire at the moment when the company pushes ahead with the acquisition of Kumho Tire. In this regard, industry sources express concerns that technology leakage, which has been brought up since the announcement of a preferred bidder, can become reality.
According to industry sources on April 28, two research managers, who worked at Kumho tire’s Tianjin plant in China, recently moved to Doublestar as research head. The two, who are in their late 30s and 40s, are key researchers in the original equipment (OE) sector. They are said to have received an exceptional offer to promote to research head while jumping over a deputy research head level.
Doublestar is currently in negotiation with the Korea Development Bank (KDB) to take over Kumho Tire. Doublestar will succeed Kumho Tire’s management rights and existing work force five months later according to its plan. However, some said that the Chinese company’s will to acquire Kumho Tire has become weak as it first recruited key researchers at Kumho Tire with an exceptional offer. In fact, Doublestar is highly likely to give up taking over Kumho Tire due to trademark rights to the Kumho brand. The KDB and Doublestar say that they have tacit approval to use the Kumho brand for the next 20 years under the current terms and conditions.
However, Kumho Asiana Group Chairman Park Sam-koo, who own the rights to the trademarks of Kumho Tire, shows the need for additional discussions on the rights. In addition, Doublestar is also faced with debt readjustments worth 2 trillion won (US$1.77 billion), the Korean government’s approval for the sale of the defense company and potential president candidates’ prudence for the sale. All the Kumho Tire’s labor union and retail store owners as well as the business industry in Gwangju opposed to the plan to sell Kumho Tire to Doublestar.
An official from the industry said, “After Doublestar was selected as a preferred bidder and carried out the due diligence on Kumho Tire, it might drain only brains, who have key technologies, first based on information acquired.”