Hanwha vows to invest $19.5 billion

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Hanwha vows to invest $19.5 billion

Hanwha will earmark 22 trillion won ($19.5 billion) for new investments and hire 35,000 additional workers over the next five years in the group’s largest-ever growth plan.

The announcement from Korea’s eighth-largest conglomerate on Sunday followed similar plans by business groups in the top 10 including Samsung, Hyundai Motor, SK, LG and Shinsegae. Korea’s conglomerates have been under pressure from the Moon Jae-in administration to help the economy, which is struggling and suffering from the worst youth unemployment rate ever.

The plan is meant to “build the basis for future growth and beef up competitiveness of our core businesses,” Hanwha said in a release.

“We hope to more flexibly cope with the rapidly changing era of the fourth industrial revolution through these plans,” said a spokesman for the conglomerate. “We are also trying to more proactively participate in the pan-state economic growth policy and serve corporate social responsibility.”

The annual investment predicted by the plan is 4.4 trillion won, 37 percent more than the average annual investment by Hanwha in the past three years, which was 3.2 trillion won.

By business sector, 5 trillion won will be invested in the petrochemical business to help grow its global market and become more cost effective. Four trillion won will be invested in the aircraft components and defense products sector. Defense is Hanwha’s core business. Another 4 trillion won will be earmarked for building new resorts and shopping malls.

Hanwha also vowed to make a massive investment in the solar energy business to solidify its standing as a leader in the sector and contribute to the Moon administration’s “renewable energy 3020” initiative. The group did not specify the amount of that investment. Finance is another sector Hanwha plans to beef up, although it will set a separate investment plan for that after studying the market situation.

Until a couple of years ago, Hanwha used to hire 3,000 to 4,000 people a year. The group increased new hires to 6,000 as its solar energy business expanded starting in 2016. The annual average for the coming five years will be 7,000, up 17 percent from last year.

In tandem with the new job plans, the conglomerate will continue to upgrade contract workers to the regular payroll. Chairman Kim Seung-yeon promised Moon he would do that a year ago during a visit to the Blue House. Some 868 workers have been upgraded in the past year.

With the new mid- and long-term investment plans, Hanwha hopes to propel its revenue from the 70 trillion won expected this year to as much as 100 trillion won by 2023.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]

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