KT chairman makes unity of affiliates top priority

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KT chairman makes unity of affiliates top priority

KT Chairman Hwang Chang-gyu suggested “One KT” as a slogan for the company yesterday, as he gears up to reform the country’s 11th-largest conglomerate reeling from chronic inefficiency and fresh scandals.

According to the company, about 30 executives from about 20 affiliates were summoned to KT headquarters in Bundang District, Seongnam, Gyeonggi, yesterday afternoon.

“Affiliates see things in narrow perspectives, from their own perspective, and they have a tendency not to make a decision from the perspective of the group as a whole,” Hwang told the executives. “Only when KT and all of its affiliates become ‘One KT’ like one body going in one direction, can we realize a goal of becoming a global No. 1 [company].”

Hwang, the former president of Samsung Electronics, has started early on reforming KT, a private entity that is heavily influenced by the government. A day after taking office as chairman in January, Hwang slashed the number of executives at KT’s headquarters from more than 130 to 90 and lowered their salary cap. He plans to cut the size of the work force at KT by up to 20 percent. KT has a total of 56 subsidiaries and about 60,000 employees.

KT, which was privatized in 2002, is seen as having compromised its efficiency as it expanded its business in recent years. During the five years under Hwang’s predecessor, Lee Suk-chae, the number of KT affiliates almost doubled. Lee, a former Telecommunications Minister, was forced to step down last year in the middle of his second term.

Hwang hinted that he may decrease the number of affiliates, too. During a stockholders’ meeting last month, he demanded the company consider its investment and costs from a zero base. “If necessary, we will restructure,” Hwang said at the stockholders’ meeting.

At yesterday’s meeting, Hwang ordered the executives to come up with business strategies that will not only improve their respective affiliates, but also benefit KT as a whole.

Hwang suggested that each affiliate adopt a customer-first policy as a pillar of its management philosophy.

He also explained the company’s new ethical management guidelines to the executives.

The company has suffered a series of difficulties recently, including a massive loan scandal involving KT ENS in February.

BY moon gwang-lip [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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