SK Group to put W100B into welfare

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SK Group to put W100B into welfare

Days after announcing plans to invest 46 trillion won ($39 billion) and less than a week after its chairman was released from prison on a special presidential pardon, SK Group said it will donate 100 billion won to help the government roll out welfare programs for elderly, low-income people.

The company said Wednesday it gave a certificate promising donations to Kim Kyung-hwan, a vice minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. The funds will go towards the ministry’s plan to build an apartment complex that includes both residences and welfare services for the elderly. SK said it will donate 20 billion won this year, 40 billion won next year and another 40 billion won in 2017.

The company added that it hopes so-called men of national merit, which includes veterans and other people who have served the nation, and descendants of independence activists will be given priority for the housing, as Korea’s economic growth was made possible by their sacrifices and most are now in their 60s and 70s.

On Monday, SK Chairman Chey Tae-won met with heads of the group’s affiliates, saying that the company was considering how it could honor the contributions that older generations had made to the nation.

“SK needs to help those old generations who had made the nation’s economic progress possible, as well as those with low incomes, to truly celebrate the country’s 70th anniversary of independence,” Chey said.

Chey’s pardon was a part of moves by the government to celebrate the 70th anniversary of liberation from Japanese colonization.

The company said Chey and executives considered supporting the welfare project after learning how older people with low incomes were having trouble finding a place to live.

“The country needs many more higher-level welfare systems, considering our aging society,” said Lee Moon-suk, chief of SK’s social contribution committee. “We expect this donation to make the nation more interested in the older generations who developed the present Korea.”

After making the contribution, Chey headed to the group’s R&D center in Daejeon and the headquarters of SK Hynix, a semiconductor maker, in Icheon, Gyeonggi.

At SK Hynix, Chey was briefed about the company’s overall business portfolios and met employees to encourage them to keep performing as well as they have in the past two years.

“I want to ask all employees to keep going forward to discover new growth engines, not only for SK, but also for the country,” Chey told employees. “I know Hynix did very well in the past few years despite tough market and global economic conditions.”

Chey’s visit to SK Hynix caught the public’s attention because the company is considered the core business unit for the group, and earlier this week, Chey announced it would receive an eye-popping 46 trillion won investment over the next few years.

The semiconductor company was acquired through an M&A guided by Chey for about 3.4 trillion won in 2012 and is considered one of his biggest accomplishments - it has already made nearly 8 trillion won in operating profit over the past two years. SK Group said Monday it is considering building two additional chip plants as a part of the investment plan.

Sources in the company said SK might announce more specific plans later this month, when SK Hynix will hold a ceremony for the completion of the company’s M14 memory production line, in which it invested 2.38 trillion won. Chey is expected to attend.


BY KWON SANG-SOO [kwon.sangsoo@joongang.co.kr]

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