Delta Airlines Eyeing Up 10% Share In Korean Air’s Parent Company

Atlanta based Delta Airlines has just acquired a small stake in Korean Air’s parent company, Hanjin Kal Corp.

Delta buys small stake in Korean Air parent company. Photo: Delta Airlines

According to CNBC, the US’s second-largest airline has bought a 4.3% stake in the Hanjin Kal Corp, as it looks to expand into the Asian market. Following the acquisition, Delta released a statement saying that by purchasing a stake in one of Korean Air’s owners, it was demonstrating a commitment to their joint venture partner.

Today’s acquisition was only the first step for Delta

Delta Air Lines also let it be known that today’s move was the first in an attempt to acquire a 10% stake in the Hanjin Kal Corp, once such a deal had received regulatory approval.

Delta buy into Korean Air
Delta wants to expand in Asia. Photo: Mark Finlay/Flickr

Delta CEO Ed Bastian was reported by as saying,

“Together with the team at Korean Air, we have a vision to deliver the world’s leading trans-Pacific joint venture for our shared customers, offering the strongest network, the best service and the finest experience connecting the U.S. with Asia. This is already one of our fastest-integrating and most successful partnerships, and experience tells us this investment will further strengthen our relationship as we continue to build on the value of the joint venture.”

While still blowing their own trumpet, Delta brag that together with Korean Air they operate the aviation industries strongest trans-Pacific joint venture. They say that this allows customers to effortlessly access over 290 destinations in the United States and over 80 in Asia, thanks to its award-winning hub at Seoul-Incheon.

Since the two SkyTeam members joined forces in May last year, they have expanded their cooperation vastly. It now includes 1,400 codeshare flights as well as integration of their cargo operations between the U.S.A. and Asia.

Delta CEO talks up the airline’s partnership with Korean Air

While no mention was made as to how much Delta paid for their small stake in the Hanjin Kal Corp, Chief Executive Officer Ed Bastian recently talked up Korean Air and their close ties to Delta during an aviation summit in the South Korean capital.

Delta Airlines boss Ed Bastian talks up Korean Air: Photo Delta Airlines

Reuters reports Bastian as saying,

“Long term the partnership and the joint venture is strong in terms of size and there’s no reason to think it can’t grow substantially into the future,”

The timing of Delta’s purchase raises questions

Delta’s purchase of a 4.3% stake in Hanjin Kal Corp comes after Korean Air patriarch Cho Yang-ho died suddenly, after shareholders decided to end his 27-year control of the company.

Delta Airlines Airbus
Delta shows their support for Korean Air CEO Walter Cho. Photo: Delta Airlines

The tycoon’s widow, his two daughters and 43-year-old son have now inherited his shares and effectively run the company, with Walter Cho at the helm as chairman and CEO.

Walter Cho and Delta CEO Bastian have ties going back 20 years. With the Cho dynasty coming under threat from an activist shareholder, Delta’s acquisition shows their confidence in Hanjin Kal Corp’s new CEO.

If Delta were to acquire 10% of Hanjin Kal Corp, it would make them the third biggest shareholder behind the Cho family and the activist fund. With the Hanjin Kal Corp having a diversified portfolio of companies, there seems little to no risk for Delta.

The 10% stake will also get Delta into the boardroom where they can start to shape Korean Air’s future strategy to be in-line with their own.

What do you think of Delta’s move to purchase part of Hanjin Kal Corp? Let us know in the comments.