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Hanjin Chair Clashes With Mother Over Company, Yonhap Reports

Heejin Kim

(Bloomberg) -- The chairman and heir of the biggest stake in the group that operates Korean Air Lines Co. clashed with his mother over leadership of the company, Yonhap News reported.

Hanjin Group Chairman Walter Cho got into a dispute with his mother, Lee Myung-hee, over how to run the business empire, the South Korean news service reported Saturday, citing an unidentified person in the industry. Cho accused Lee of siding with his elder sister, Heather Cho, in the struggle for control of the conglomerate, according to the report.

The clash took place at Lee’s home on Christmas Day, Yonhap reported. A spokesman at family-run Hanjin Group declined to comment on the Yonhap report Sunday.

Walter Cho, 43, stepped in as chairman of the group and the airline after his father -- facing a trial for allegedly embezzling 19.6 billion won ($17 million) -- passed away. Shares of the group’s holding company Hanjin Kal Corp. soared 20% on Dec. 23 when the company confirmed that Heather, 45, had said through her legal representative that her brother is not running the group in accordance with the late chairman’s dying wish. The statement prompted speculation of a possible leadership revamp before an expected shareholder meeting in March.

Read more: ‘Nut Rage’ Heiress Criticizes Her Brother Atop Family Business

Heather and her younger sibling, Emily Cho, have had roles in overseeing the group’s airlines. The elder sister gained notoriety in 2014 in what became known as the “nut rage” incident, after she flew into a rage aboard a Korean Air Lines flight on a New York tarmac over the way she was served macadamia nuts.She forced the plane to return to the gate and was eventually sentenced to five months in jail in South Korea over the incident.

To contact the reporter on this story: Heejin Kim in Seoul at hkim579@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Shamim Adam at sadam2@bloomberg.net, Dave McCombs

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