SK to invest 17 trillion won, most ever, in 2017

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SK to invest 17 trillion won, most ever, in 2017

SK Group is betting big this year with plans to recruit 8,200 employees and invest 17 trillion won ($14.67 billion), the largest amount ever, through its affiliates.

According to the group on Thursday, its 16 major affiliates, including chipmaker SK Hynix, SK Innovation and SK Telecom, plan to invest 17 trillion won, which is 21 percent larger than last year’s 14 trillion won.

These affiliates are also hiring 8,200 employees, including 2,100 new college graduates, which is 100 more recruits than last year.

“The core competence of a company is sustainable only when investment and recruitment is backed,” a spokesperson from SK Group said. “It’s Chairman Chey Tae-won’s management philosophy that top executives must push through with investments even in an uncertain business environment.”

Eleven trillion won, roughly 65 percent of the proposed investment plan, will be spent on improving local facilities. It is the first time the group has decided to spend more than 10 trillion won on domestic business infrastructure.

“We expect [the investment] will contribute to the local economy as spending on local infrastructure can boost job creation,” the group added in a statement.

Among major affiliates, SK Hynix vowed a 7 trillion won investment plan. For the last two years, the chipmaker had already invested over 6 trillion won in its business.

This year’s investment will be spent mainly on mass-producing 10-nanometer level dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips, an innovative chip product offering higher memory density and developing 72-layer 3D NAND chips, an upgrade from existing 48-layer chips it had been mass-producing from November last year. The company also plans to build a new factory in North Chungcheong by the latter half of the year in response to increased chip demand.

During the last quarter, the chipmaker reaped 1.53 trillion won in operating profits, up 55.3 percent year-on-year and topping over 1 trillion won for the first time in five quarters. The company owed this to the steady recovery of chip prices globally.

“As the prices of semiconductors continue to go up in the global market we expect SK Hynix’s first quarter performance will also see improvements,” said Song Myung-sup, an analyst at HI Investment & Securities, “and we expect its operating profit for the whole year 2017 to reach an all-time high.”

From vowed investments, the group also put aside 4.9 trillion won for merger and acquisitions in search of new growth engines, over 50 percent more than last year. The investment strategy is consistent with a move by SK Holdings to acquire 51 percent of the semiconductor-wafer manufacturer LG Siltron on Monday at 620 billion won.


BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]

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