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Battle of petitions is latest in Hybe-Ador dispute

By Kim Jae-heun

Published : May 26, 2024 - 15:12

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Ador CEO Min Hee-jin speaks at a press conference held in Seoul on April 25. (Yonhap) Ador CEO Min Hee-jin speaks at a press conference held in Seoul on April 25. (Yonhap)

Ahead of Ador’s extraordinary shareholders’ meeting Friday to decide on the dismissal of CEO Min Hee-jin, NewJeans fans and Hybe staffers are showing their respective support by submitting petitions to the Seoul court.

In a petition submitted to the Seoul Central District Court on May 24, NewJeans fans wrote, “Until it is legally concluded that Min acted unlawfully, the contract terms signed between Min and Hybe should be respected and we hope she remains the CEO of Ador. We know that is what NewJeans wants, and we support the group's stance.”

Min’s lawyer filed the fans' petition after 10,000 signatures were collected in about 16 hours.

Min and NewJeans members also submitted their petitions to the court during the hearing on the preliminary injunction filed by Min on May 17. Min had requested the court to prohibit the company from exercising its voting rights this Friday, and the court will decide sometime this week on whether to grant her request. Hybe holds 80 percent of Ador’s shares, and its shareholders likely will approve Min‘s removal if the meeting is held on Friday.

Ador staff also submitted a petition in favor of Min on last Tuesday.

A petition filed by NewJeans fans with the Seoul Central District Court, May 24 (NewJeansSTRM's X account) A petition filed by NewJeans fans with the Seoul Central District Court, May 24 (NewJeansSTRM's X account)

From Hybe’s side, its subsidiary representatives and staff including Pledis Entertainment founder Han Sung-soo, Source Music CEO So Sung-jin, BTS' producer Pdogg, and BTS and Le Sserifim's creative director Kim Sung-hyun have filed petitions in support of Hybe. They all claimed that the value of the company’s multi-label system should be protected and that the whole entertainment industry would falter as a result of Min’s pursuit of private interest.

It is unlikely the court will side with Min as preventing Hybe from exercising its voting rights directly violates shareholder rights.

“Unless there is a solid reason, let’s say something definitely illegal, to prevent shareholders from exercising voting rights, the chance of the court granting Min’s injunction is very slim. The petitions submitted by NewJeans members and their fans may be taken into consideration by the judges, but they will have a small impact on the result,” Lee Jae-kyoung, a professor at Konkuk University Law School and the president of Korea Entertainment Law Society, said Sunday.