Posco CEO searches for non-steel growth

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Posco CEO searches for non-steel growth

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Posco Chairman Kwon Oh-joon inspects an anode materials plant of Posco ESM located in Gumi, North Gyeongsang, on Friday. [POSCO]

Top steelmaker Posco plans to spend 300 billion won ($261 million) on developing anode materials through 2020, an attempt to ramp up its non-steel portfolio.

According to the company Sunday, Posco Chairman Kwon Oh-joon, announced a goal to “invest an additional 300 billion won in the anode materials business through 2020” on a visit to a Posco ESM’s anode materials plant in Gumi, North Gyeongsang last Friday.

Anode materials are core substances for lithium-ion batteries used in electric cars, smartphones and laptops.

After Kwon was re-elected chairman of the company in a board of directors meeting last month, he set about boosting the non-steel business, which includes battery materials production and construction, and finding new growth engines as a major task of his coming term.

His key task during the first term was strengthening Posco’s steel business, which has struggled due to global oversupply.

Since then, Kwon has been busy visiting key battery materials related sites including the anode materials plant and also the company’s first lithium carbonate production plant.

Posco’s non-steel businesses include materials and construction operated either by the steelmaker itself or through its affiliates Posco Engineering & Construction, Posco Daewoo and Posco ESM. It is starting this year with a focus on battery materials considering the growth potential of the market.

“Investment on anode materials show our strong will to actively foster the battery materials business, considering the wide use of batteries and positive outlook for the market,” the company said in a statement Sunday.

Posco estimates the world’s rechargeable battery market at $29.3 billion, which is expected to grow into a $44.2 billion market by 2020.

Posco ESM, which leads the steelmaker’s materials business, has been supplying general anode materials until it started to also supply high-capacity anode materials for low-speed electric cars to battery maker LG Chem from last month. According to the company, there are only two companies in the world including Posco ESM capable of mass producing high-capacity anode material.

To further ramp up the materials business through Posco ESM, the steelmaker boosted its stake in the unit last month to 75.32 percent.

“We will combine the know-how of Posco to foster more profitable growth engines such as by producing magnesium and nickel through independently developed technologies,” the company said in a statement.


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

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