New generation of leader takes control at Doosan Group
Park Jeong-won is the first grandson of the conglomerate’s founder, Park Too-pyong.
The new chairman is already chairman of Doosan Corporation, the holding company of Doosan Group.
The nation’s No. 11 conglomerate said Park Yong-maan recommended Park Jeong-won, 54, to become chairman at a board meeting at the group’s headquarters in Jung District, central Seoul. The nephew will officially be named chairman after going through necessary procedures at a board meeting scheduled for March 25.
“I have been preparing this for years, and I thought this is the right time since my term as head of the board of directors ends this month,” Park Yong-maan said.
“I have been transferring my work [to Park Jeong-won] over the past few years, and since the group’s key businesses [such as machinery company Doosan Infracore] are set to turn to a profit this year despite a slumping global economy, I think my job is done.”
Park Yong-maan is already chairman of Doosan Infracore and will continue to lead it. He will also be made chairman of the Doosan Leadership Institute, which the group recently established to nurture young workers into competitive global leaders.
He will also continue leading the Korea Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI).
Doosan said there are no complicated politics in this succession since the sons of the founder have led the group in turns. Park Yong-sung, third son of the founder, and fourth son Park Yong-hyun led the group in the past. Park Yong-maan is the fifth son.
But the generational shift at the top still came as a surprise among industry insiders because Park Yong-maan has been successfully improving the group’s profits in sectors that face fierce competition, such as machinery, construction and heavy industries. He is expected to focus on his work on the KCCI, which represents Korea Inc.
“Every time the leadership changes, all kinds of rumors are generated, but we have been preparing this for a long time,” a Doosan spokesman said.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in business from Korea University in 1985, Park Jeong-won joined Doosan Industrial in 1985 and has been working for the group for 31 years. He earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Boston University in 1989.
In 1999, he led the group’s trading arm, Doosan Business Group, and boosted the company’s revenues by 30 percent in 2000. He led Doosan Heavy Industries in 2001 when the group acquired it from the government.
Park Jeong-won is also owner of the Doosan Bears, a professional baseball team that won the Korean Series title in the Korea Baseball Organization last season. He also led a successful campaign to win a coveted license to run a duty-free business last year.
“He is recognized as a ‘game changer’ who isn’t afraid of challenges,” a Doosan spokesman said.
The new leader has challenges ahead. Park Yong-maan put a lot of hopes on Doosan Infracore, but Doosan Group had 1.7 trillion won ($1.4 billion) in net losses last year.
Doosan Infracore was forced to sell its machinery tool business on Wednesday to private equity fund MBK Partners for about 1.18 trillion won to raise cash. With the money, the company expects its debt-to-equity ratio to fall below 200 percent.
The company, which ran a popular TV ad campaign called “Human is the first [priority],” came under fire this year for laying off new employees in their 20s.
“He will first try to stabilize the overall group that has been shaken a bit by recent restructuring,” a Doosan executive said.
BY KWON SANG-SOO [email@example.com]