Hanwha heir apparent is promoted

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Hanwha heir apparent is promoted

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Kim Dong-kwan

Kim Dong-kwan, the eldest son of Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn, has been promoted to executive vice president of Hanwha Q Cells less than a year after he was named a senior vice president of the group’s solar power affiliate.

In a reshuffle announced by Hanwha on Sunday, the 32-year old Kim, who is considered the heir apparent of Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn, was credited for the success of the group’s solar power business, one of its important new growth sectors.

The solar power affiliate was in the red from 2011 through last year, but turned an operating profit of 1.2 billion won ($1.03 million) in the second quarter of this year and in the third quarter reported a record-high quarterly operating profit of 46.6 billion won.

It is expected to grow even more considering the contracts it already has for next year.

“Kim led Hanwha’s solar power affiliates and helped the company grow into the world’s No. 1 solar power company in terms of production,” said a spokesman of Hanwha. “He also led many big projects including a supply contract with NextEra of the United States.”

Kim, the eldest of the chairman’s three sons, joined Hanwha Corporation in January 2010 and worked at Hanwha Solar from December 2011 to July 2013. He became marketing director for Hanwha Q Cells in August 2013. Since March of this year, he has been working as a senior vice president at Hanwha Q Cells.

Hanwha may be accelerating the succession process because of the legal woes of Chairman Kim Seung-youn. He is officially not working since he was convicted of breach of trust for illegal intra-group financial transactions in 2011, although in February 2014, the Supreme Court suspended his three-year prison term for five years.

The oldest son currently owns 4.44 percent of Hanwha Corporation and a 50 percent stake of Hanwha S&C, an IT firm that owns 100 percent of Hanwha Energy, a highly-profitable company that reported operating profit of 94.6 billion won for the first three quarters of this year. Hanwha Energy acquired a 30 percent stake in Hanwha General Chemical in April, which owns 50 percent of Hanwha Total Petrochemical, which reported 8 trillion won in revenues this year, the most among Hanwha’s manufacturing businesses.

Hanwha Group also announced promotions of 113 other executives for next year. Kim Nam-ok, a senior vice president at Hanwha General Insurance, was named as the group’s first female senior executive vice president. Kim, who didn’t attend high school or college, was able to climb the ladder through professionalism and performance, the company said. Working as director of Hanwha Insurance’s Masan, Busan, Gyeonggi and Incheon regions, she significantly improved the offices’ balance sheets. “The reshuffle was carried out based on performances and many people in sales, new business development and R&D were promoted,” said a spokesman of Hanwha.

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

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