Ex-chief of embattled Hanjin Shipping offers 10 bln won in personal assets

A former chief of cash-strapped Hanjin Shipping Co. on Monday offered 10 billion won ($8.96 million) in personal assets to the country's No. 1 container shipping line currently under court receivership, in order to help the company tide over the current crisis.

Choi Eun-young, former chairwoman of Hanjin Shipping, earlier said she was willing to offer her private assets to help the shipper whose ships have been stranded at sea following its court receivership in South Korea earlier this month.

The 54-year-old Choi, the wife of the late Cho Su-ho, the younger brother of Hanjin Group chairman Cho Yang-ho. Cho Su-ho died in 2006 when he was serving as chairman of Hanjin Shipping.

Choi took over the management of Hanjin Shipping in 2006 after her husband's death and served as its chairwoman until April 2014 before handing over the control of the world's seventh-largest shipper to Hanjin Group.

She has been under fire for allegedly mismanaging the world's seventh-largest shipper for the past few years, whose demise has sent a blow to the global cargo flows.

Hanjin Shipping's debt ratio had surged from 150 percent to 1,400 percent during Choi's reign, prompting criticism that she was largely to blame for the shipper's collapse.

Adding to the critics, Choi, who owns Hanjin Shipping's headquarters building in downtown Seoul through a holding company, has reportedly collected 14 billion won annually in rent from the financially troubled shipper.

Her assets are estimated at up to 40 billion won.

Meanwhile, Korean Air Lines Co., Hanjin Shipping's largest shareholder, decided to provide 60 billion won to its shipping affiliate, and group chairman Cho promised to offer 40 billion won in private assets as well.

But local business circles are negative about the group's moves due to controversy over breach of trust, with the Korea Economic Research Institute, a think tank run by the chaebol lobby Federation of Korean Industries, saying at a seminar that it is inappropriate for the largest shareholder of Hanjin Shipping, Korean Air Lines, to be put under pressure to shoulder additional financial burden to rescue a court-managed company. (Yonhap)

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