Ourhome headquarters in western Seoul/ Yonhap

Koo Mee-hyun, the eldest daughter of cafeteria food and ingredient supplier Ourhome founder Koo Ja-hak, has frustrated the reappointment of her youngest sister and current vice chair Koo Jee-eun, in a move to assume leadership and sell off the firm to a private equity fund (PEF) for profit, market watchers said Friday.

The eldest daughter was able to appoint herself, her husband and her nephew as new board directors at a shareholders meeting earlier in the day. The outgoing vice chair’s term will end June 3.

The takeover attempts by the eldest daughter, long distanced from management as a housewife, was motivated by a sense of revenge, according to industry insiders. Reportedly, the housewife became furious after her demand for the firm to pay her 45.6 billion won ($32.8 million) in dividends was rejected during a shareholders’ meeting last month.

At stake is the firm’s global expansion strategy and food tech growth initiatives, alongside the efforts of the outgoing vice chair to stabilize the firm’s operations over the past three years. The youngest daughter assumed leadership in 2021, soon after her older brother and then vice chair, Koo Bon-sung, was involved in a drunk driving incident. The firm has since experienced significant growth, with sales reaching an all-time high of over 1.9 trillion won last year, while operating profit soared to 943 billion won, marking a remarkable 76 percent increase.

Some industry insiders say a successful sale of the firm will net the housewife about 380 billion won, as inferred from a previous corporate value of about 2 trillion won assessed by La Defense Partners, a PEF.

The Koo siblings control a combined 98 percent of Ourhome shares. The former vice chair’s stake stands at 38.56 percent, 안전 followed by the current vice chair (20.67 percent) and the housewife (19.28 percent). Their sister Koo Myung-jin holds a 19.6 percent stake. 

The company’s labor union protested the housewife’s move, demanding her resignation along with two other board directors who are her allies. 

“Koo Mee-hyun and her husband are ignorant of management and not at all interested in the firm’s growth,” said a group of 15 union members at a rally in front of the firm headquarters in Gangseo District, western Seoul.

“They should immediately resign as board directors and forfeit their status as the controlling shareholders. We strongly condemn them for threatening the livelihoods of workers.”

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