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Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Ador CEO Min Hee-jin keeps job, two executives are ousted

By Vaseline May31,2024

Min Hee-jin, CEO of Ador / Courtesy of Ador

Min Hee-jin, CEO of Ador / Courtesy of Ador

By Dong Sun-hwa

CEO Min Hee-jin of Ador, home of girl group NewJeans and a subsidiary of K-pop powerhouse HYBE, managed to retain her position, but two Ador directors were dismissed during an extraordinary shareholder meeting on Friday.

HYBE, which owns 80 percent of Ador’s shares, has appointed three of its officers – Kim Joo-young, Lee Jae-sang and Lee Kyung-joon – as new board members of Ador.

Kim is HYBE’s Chief Human Resources Officer, having previously worked as an HR expert at personal care manufacturer Yuhan-Kimberly and gaming company Krafton. Lee Jae-sang is the Chief Security Officer known for his role in HYBE’s acquisition of US record label Ithaca Holdings in 2021. Lee Kyung-joon is the Chief Financial Officer, who has worked with Min at Ador in the past.

HYBE initially planned to dismiss Min during the shareholders’ meeting because he allegedly betrayed Min’s trust. It filed a report with police against the CEO on April 25, saying Min, who has an 18 percent stake in Ador, tried to take control of Ador from its parent company through shareholder conspiracy.

Min denied the allegations, saying she was accused by HYBE after blowing the whistle internally on allegedly copying NewJeans’ formula to launch another group – ILLIT – under its roof. On May 7, she filed an injunction to prevent HYBE from exercising its voting rights to fire her, saying HYBE’s move violates the shareholders’ contract between the two.

The Seoul Central District Court ruled in Min’s favor on Thursday and granted her injunction.

“HYBE’s reasons for dismissing Min were not sufficiently explained,” the court said. “What Min did can be seen as an act of betrayal, but not as a breach of trust.”

Although Min has managed to maintain her position, experts say Min and HYBE will now have an “uneasy coexistence” full of internal conflict, with the CEO and new board members silencing each other on various issues.

“It will be a challenge for Min to say something in her company,” music critic Han Dong-yoon told The Korea Times. “There will mainly be clashes in cases that require an administrative decision.”

Min may consider taking legal action against HYBE for firing Ador executives, as she stressed on Thursday that it is “unjustified” to remove them from their positions given the court ruling.

“She will do her best to find new solutions, but if she continues to have disagreements with the board members, she may not be able to enjoy creative autonomy and will eventually leave the company alone,” Han added. “In HYBE’s case, it will focus on uncovering the smoking gun to prove that she attempted to usurp control of Ador.”

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