Stolen Hyundai notebooks expose channel stoush

The theft of a consignment of Hyundai-badged laptops last month could become a flashpoint for conflict between the local distributor of the brand and the company that controls its distribution license.Currently, Jackar Holdings subsidiary, Hyundai MultiCAV, has the rights to distribute the PC brand in Australasia through an agreement with Hyundai Digital Europe (HDE).

The theft of a consignment of Hyundai-badged laptops last month could become a flashpoint for conflict between the local distributor of the brand and the company that controls its distribution license.

Currently, Jackar Holdings subsidiary, Hyundai MultiCAV, has the rights to distribute the PC brand in Australasia through an agreement with Hyundai Digital Europe (HDE).

However, amidst a flurry of investigations by police and consumer protection authorities concerning the notebooks, which were stolen from a Bankstown reseller under controversial circumstances, HDE's director revealed that Hyundai MultiCAV's contract was in peril.

HDE's Robert Kim, who founded Hyundai International Pty Ltd in Australia last November, late last week told ZDNet Australia  that the company would not renew Hyundai MultiCAV's contract to distribute the Hyundai PCs.

Kim cited "quality problems" as the reason behind the decision.

Edward Reynolds, chairman of Jackar Holdings hit back, accusing Kim of exploiting the theft. Reynolds said Kim was agitating the situation to smooth his retrieval of MultiCAV's licence.

"Robert [Kim]'s out here doing some stirring -- I mean in our view Robert's trying to muscle in on our business because we're doing extremely well," said Reynolds.

Kim's comments regarding the contract came shortly after Hyundai International publicly alleged that the notebooks -- built by Hyundai MultiCAV's appointed system integrator PC-Club and later stolen in a truck hijacking incident -- were counterfeits. Pointing to alleged irregularities involving the serial numbers of the stolen consignment, Hyundai International claimed that the notebooks were not authentic products.

However, Reynolds refuted the claims. While he conceded that the notebooks had not come through MultiCAV's books, he claimed that Kim's allegation was calculated to discredit the company.

Reynolds said and the two Australian companies (MultiCAV and Jackar Holdings) had recently fallen into disagreement over licensing fees, not quality issues. According to Reynolds, Kim had been trying to claim fees in excess of those Jackar had previously agreed to pay.

Reynolds believes that Kim wants to take Australasian distribution rights for Hyundai PC products back and under the wing of Hyundai International.

"There seems to be an agenda that he's trying to move us out of the business," said Reynolds.

Kim is reported to have dismissed Reynold's claim, saying that Hynudai International's focus was outside the PC space.

However, Reynolds has told ZDNet Australia  that Kim was said to be close to losing rights to control distribution licenses in other regions, such as the United Kingdom, due to lack of volumes.

Furthermore, Reynolds claimed Kim snubbed him and Hyundai MultiCAV CEO Aron Jackson after the pair travelled to London to meet with Kim to discuss the licensing issue. According to Reynolds, Kim refused to enter formal meetings with them at HDE's London office.

"Both Aron and I went to London to meet with Robert and he refused to meet with us after having only a brief meeting with us in a coffee shop. Isn't that a bit strange?"

Both Hyundai MultiCAV and Hyundai International last week descended on PC-Club to ask questions about the controversial consignment of notebooks, concurrent with investigations by NSW Police and the NSW Department of Fair Trading.