Business heads focus on safety and security to improve global standing
Beyond the grandiose directions presented by Korea’s largest business groups, key affiliates and other companies mapped out their own strategies for this year with focuses ranging from mergers and acquisitions to environmental sustainability.
Hanjin KAL Chairman Cho Won-tae has a big year ahead in 2021 as he is in charge of operating the country’s biggest airliner Korean Air Lines and merging it with the second largest, Asiana Airlines.
The chairman called the acquisition “a historic mission” to be undertaken to save the industry battered by the coronavirus pandemic.
“The combination of two companies means more than just physically putting two companies together,” Cho said in a video sent to employees on Monday.
“It is more of a historic mission to be given to employees at both companies who are a part of Korea’s airline industry,” he said.
LG Electronics CEO Kwon Bong-seok encouraged workers to enact meaningful changes.
“We should continue to try our best to make change through growth and then achieve growth through change based on values well aligned with serving customers,” the CEO said in an emailed New Year’s message.
Telecom operators SK Telecom and KT vowed to push beyond their current boundaries to become IT companies offering diverse digital platforms and services.
SK Telecom even went a step further with its CEO Park Jung-ho making it official last year that the company is considering changing its name and corporate image.
Companies with a strong base in manufacturing stressed the need to meet higher standards in eco-friendly practices.
“Manufacturing is no longer solely about producing an output, but how and in what way we do it — that will be the question that decides our survival,” said Posco Chief Executive Choi Jeong-woo in a New Year’s message aired online on Monday.
“As the social demand for environment, social and governance [ESG] management rises, we’re at a point where fulfilling these duties as a member of society is more important than ever.”
The steelmaker plans to develop technology to reduce carbon emissions and expand its portfolio of more environmentally friendly products under a long-term initiative to realize carbon neutrality by 2050. In terms of business, Choi stressed the importance of improving safety measures, smart factory practices in the workplace and developing steel material for future mobility and eco-friendly industries.
Hyundai Heavy Industries Group Chairman Kwon Oh-gap put a bigger emphasis on developing growth engines, stressing that 2021 would be “a very important year” for the shipbuilder.
The group is going through a major transition in its business portfolio: Shipbuilder Hyundai Heavy Industries is waiting for approval to acquire Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. Hyundai Construction Equipment is also pushing to merge with Doosan Infracore, as preferred bidder.
“My management goal for the year is going beyond the crisis and preparing for our future,” Kwon said in his New Year’s remark, adding that the initiative includes a wide review of subsidiaries’ fundamentals and each of them enhancing autonomy in terms of business decisions and profits as they reduce dependence on Hyundai Heavy Industries, the largest shipbuilding unit.
Battery makers, on the back of global boom in the electric vehicle industry, emphasized quality and safety, to take a lead in a cutthroat competition.
“LG Energy Solution has so far led vehicle batteries, internet technology and energy storage system markets and set up industry standards,” Kim said in a release Monday. “But as the market is growing, we should question whether [the products’] safety and credibility is good enough that we and our family could use them.”
Kim pledged to fortify the company’s quality control center and empower the center head to autonomously make decisions.
Kim also emphasized creating new value for customers. For lithium-ion batteries, Kim said the company would vie to differentiate materials and optimize product structure to enable batteries with high energy density, fast charging times, long lifespans and low costs.
Kim Jun, CEO of SK Innovation, said the company would find a way to go green, moving away from the carbon-centered businesses it has been engaged in for the past 60 years.
“As the company set green energy and material as its new direction, the company should roll out comprehensive and fundamental innovation towards Green Balance 2030,” SK Innovation CEO said.
Green Balance 2030 is an initiative announced by Kim last year, vying for a shift from an oil refining and chemical company to an eco-friendly company.
He emphasized bold investment to fortify its battery production technology as well as creating new value through battery-as-a-service business.
Samsung SDI CEO Jun Young-hyun picked quality control and safety concerns as the top priorities for the company to take a lead in the fast-expanding industry.
“Securing absolute top-notch quality based on safety is our company’s fundamental concern that cannot be traded with anything,” Jun said in his New Year’s address.
BY PARK EUN-JEE, JIN EUN-SOO, SONG KYOUNG-SON [firstname.lastname@example.org]