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Creditors to inject 1.6 tln won into Asiana Airlines

Creditors of Asiana Airlines Inc. will funnel 1.6 trillion won (US$1.4 billion) into the cash-strapped airline to help it overcome a liquidity crisis, its main creditor said Tuesday.

The Korea Development Bank-led creditors will buy 500 billion won worth of perpetual bonds to be sold by Asiana Airlines, open a 800 billion-won credit line to the airline and extend 300 billion won in the form of a standby letter of credit, a bank guarantee of payment on behalf of clients, the state lender said in a statement.


In return for the financial package, creditors demanded an additional 4.8 percent stake in Kumho Business, the group's express bus operator, and a stake of Asiana Airlines up for sale as collateral, the statement said.

"If Kumho Asiana fails to sell Asiana Airlines, creditors will have the right to sell the 33.5 percent stake (held by Kumho Industrial Co.) in the carrier," the KDB said.

Creditors want a "competent" buyer to acquire the Asiana stake up for sale and to purchase new shares to be issued by the airline, the KDB said.

The policy lender also said a buyer can acquire Asiana Airlines and its two budget carriers -- Air Busan Co. and Air Seoul Inc. -- in a package deal.

Asiana Airlines held a board meeting to accept the creditors' demand, the company said in a statement. The KDB and Kumho Asiana, Asiana's parent, are expected to sign a deal on the financial package by Wednesday, a KDB spokesman said.

On Tuesday, the news didn't buoy shares of Asiana Airlines as creditors have been widely expected to extend a helping hand to the company.

Shares in Asiana plunged nearly 5.9 percent to 7,720 won, far underperforming the broader KOSPI's 0.2 percent gain, due to rising oil prices. Its listed budget carrier, Air Busan, also plummeted 7.6 percent to 7,180 won.

Earlier this month, Kumho Asiana submitted a fresh self-rescue plan to creditors in return for financial support, as creditors demanded more concrete and bolder action to restore market trust in the group.

Under the new self-help plan, the group said it will immediately start the process of selling Asiana Airlines and provide an additional 4.8 percent stake in Kumho Business to the creditors as collateral for new loans.

Currently, creditors hold a 42.7 percent stake in Kumho Business as collateral for the loans that have been extended to the group, along with a 42.7 percent stake in Kumho Tire Co.

The group also said it will scale down the airline's fleet, suspend non-profitable routes and improve employees' productivity.

The country's second-biggest airline has been under pressure to strengthen its financial health amid corporate challenges facing the airline-to-petrochemical conglomerate.

Asiana Airlines owes financial institutions 3.2 trillion won in short-term obligations, with some 1.2 trillion won of loans maturing this year.

The restructuring plan follows Kumho Asiana Chairman Park Sam-koo's resignation last month.

Park stepped down as chief executive of Asiana Airlines after the company failed to win auditors' approval for its 2018 financial report. The company's shares nose-dived, though its revised statement was accepted.

In 2018, the KDB and Asiana Airlines signed a deal that required the carrier to secure liquidity through sales of non-core assets, and the issuance of convertible and perpetual bonds.

Last year, Asiana Airlines swung to a net loss of 10.4 billion won from a net profit of 248 billion won a year earlier due to currency-related losses and increased jet fuel costs. (Yonhap)