SEOUL -- Curbing high debt levels at Korean Air Lines is the first major task for new chief executive Cho Won-tae. The third-generation heir to the family-run transportation conglomerate is seeking to raise 457.7 billion won ($404.5 million) next month by issuing new shares to reduce the company's debt-to-equity ratio, which stands at almost 1,200%, though the level of investor interest is still unclear.
South Korea's largest airline and flag carrier said debt reached 22.1 trillion won in December, up 1.8% from a year ago. This represents 1,178% of its equity of 1.9 trillion won, up from 910% three months ago. That is far higher than that of its smaller local rival Asiana Airlines, whose debt-to-equity ratio was 688% in December.