중앙데일리

A company battles to the top

[The faces inside KOREA’S CONGLOMERATES:Hanwha]
Hard-driving CEO finds opportunity where others see adversity

Dec 22,2008
Kim Seung-youn (56) * Hanwha Group Chairman * Master’s in international politics, Depaul University
In April, when the Hanwha Group, the nation’s 10th biggest private conglomerate, joined the competition to buy Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co., the world’s third biggest shipbuilder, the conglomerate was not regarded as the most likely bidder.

In fact, most market observers thought Hanwha stood no chance, after its two bigger rivals, Posco and GS, declared a joint bid in early October.

But even at that time, Hanwha Chairman Kim Seung-youn, 56, was not discouraged, Hanwha officials said last month. Kim told his staff they still had a chance because an equal consortium of two big companies would be impossible in Korean corporate culture.

And his words came true. The consortium broke up and Hanwha was designated as the preferred bidder in late October by state-run Korea Development Bank, which is managing the deal.

“Hanwha offered a higher price than what we expected to get,” said Chung In-sung, director of corporate financing at KDB, said

This shows Kim’s aggressive management style. He has led the conglomerate since 1981, when he was only 29. He took over after his father and Hanwha founder, Kim Chong-hee, passed away. The junior Kim has grown the conglomerate through active mergers and acquisitions, including the 1982 takeover of Hanyang Chemical, which is now Hanwha L&C, and the 2002 takeover of Korea Life Insurance. Kim hopes the takeover of Daewoo Shipbuilding will turn Hanwha into a global company.

The recent success came after one of the Hanwha Group’s most difficult times. Kim was granted a pardon by President Lee Myung-bak on the Aug. 15 Liberation Day holiday after a Seoul appeals court in September 2007 gave him a suspended prison term for his involvement in the assault of several bar workers in a revenge attack on behalf of his son.

In accordance with a conglomerate that has grown through M&As, Kim is also known for scouting competent people from other companies. The Hanwha Group has many top managers from outside compared to Korea’s other major conglomerates. These executives and their “native” Hanwha counterparts work in harmony.

Shin Eun-chul, vice chairman and chief executive officer of Korea Life Insurance, which the Hanwha Group took over in 2002, is a key example of a top manager who was recruited from another company. He worked at Samsung Life Insurance for 30 years and was hired to lead Korea Life in 2003. Korea Life is now the nation’s No. 2 life insurer. Shin has repeatedly emphasized the importance of “knowledge management” including the creation and exchange of information and experience among workers. With this in mind, the insurer opened a free electronic library for workers last month.

Kwon Cher-shin, executive director and CEO of Hanwha Non-Life Insurance, worked for Samsung Life and Samsung Fire and Marine Insurance for 30 years in total. Over that period, Kwon developed various products including mixed insurance that covers diseases and accidents at the same time. He took his current position in 2006.

And Kim Hyun-chung, president and CEO of builder Hanwha E&C, worked for more than 20 years at the construction unit of the now-dismantled Daewoo Group. He started his career as a building engineer and participated in major local and overseas projects including the development of a town in the North African country of Libya in the early 1980s. Since he became Hanwha E&C’s first CEO in 2002, the year the builder was spun off as a separate company, sales have grown an average of 30 percent each year.

Among “native” Hanwha managers is Sung Ha-hyun, vice chairman and CEO of Asan Techno Valley. He joined Korea Explosives, which is now the flagship company Hanwha Corp., in 1971. After heading the group’s development, distribution and leisure units, he now leads Asan Techno Valley, which launched in 2006. The company is a joint venture of Hanwha, the Asan city government and the state-run Korea Development Bank for construction of a corporate town in Asan, South Chungcheong.

Hur Won-joon, president and CEO of Hanwha Chemical, has also worked for the Hanwha Group a long time. As an expert in chemical engineering, he led research and development in the group’s petrochemical business in the 1980s. And he successfully led the restructuring of the petrochemical business directly after the 1997-98 financial crisis by removing non-essential businesses and attracting foreign investment, Hanwha Chemical said. He is also the current chairman of the Korea Petrochemical Industry Association.

Keum Choon-soo, president of management planning for Hanwha Group, has been a leader of Hanwha’s overseas business and is one of Chairman Kim’s closest aides. He served as head of Hanwha’s European operations from the late 1990s to the early 2000s. He is also leading the conglomerate’s effort to take over Daewoo Shipbuilding.

Kim Kwan-soo, president and CEO of Hanwha S&C, has worked in various Hanwha Group units, including construction, petrochemical, financial services and development. Based on his varied experiences, he now leads Hanwha S&C, an IT solution provider.

Choi Woong-jin, president and CEO of Hanwha L&C, a plastics manufacturer, is an expert in planning, management and marketing. He has accumulated experience in the company’s related operations, as well as the whole business group. Since taking his current position at the start of 2007, he has focused on overseas business and succeeded in taking over U.S.-based Azdel Inc., which specializes in manufacturing high-performance thermoplastic composites.

Yang Wook, vice president and CEO of Hanwha Galleria, also began his career in the Hanwha Group and has worked in various units. Serving as head of the retail unit since 2005, he successfully helped the Galleria Department Store chain establish its high-end and fashionable image.

And Chung Soo-bong, vice president and CEO of Hancomm, helped the advertising agency unit move from being the nation’s 26th biggest advertising company by market share in 2004, when he took the office, to ninth last year by upgrading the company’s brand value.

Hong Won-gi is vice president and CEO of Hanwha Resort. The company known today as Hanwha Resort entered the recreation and leisure business with the construction of Korea’s first condominium complex in 1979 and grew rapidly after becoming a Hanwha Group affiliate in 1986.

Yang Tae-jin, vice president and CEO of Hanwha Corp.’s Trade Division, is an expert in trade and overseas business. He has worked in the company’s Los Angeles and Tokyo subsidiaries.

Hanwha Corp.’s Explosives Division is headed by Nam Young-sun, an executive director. He took the position of CEO at the relatively young age of 51. He also has experience in public relations and marketing.

Lee Kyung-jae, vice president and CEO of the Hanwha Eagles, is a former journalist and has led the baseball team since 2002. The Hanwha Group established its professional baseball team, Korea’s seventh, in 1986.

And Kim Jong-sung, vice president and CEO of Hanwha Station Development, led the company’s successful remodeling of Seoul Station to accommodate the KTX high-speed rail system.

Jung Yi-man is executive director and CEO of Hanwha 63City, which operates Seoul’s landmark 63 Building, in Yeouido, Seoul. He remodeled the building in 2006 and helped the company convert to a net profit last year.

Among other major Hanwha Group CEOs are Kim Shin-youn, executive director and CEO of Hanwha Polydreamer, which specializes in the processing of environmentally-friendly chemicals; and Jung Seung-jin, executive director and CEO of Daedeok Techno Valley, a joint venture established in 2001 by the Hanwha Group, the Daejeon city government and KDB to support the development of a high-tech corporate town in the city.

By Moon So-young Staff Reporter [symoon@joongang.co.kr]



dictionary dictionary | 프린트 메일로보내기 내블로그에 저장