SK Inc. rethinks investment, ditches holdings company image

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SK Inc. rethinks investment, ditches holdings company image

SK Inc. CEO Jang Dong-hyun speaks to investors in an annual general meeting on Monday. [SK INC.]

SK Inc. CEO Jang Dong-hyun speaks to investors in an annual general meeting on Monday. [SK INC.]

SK Holdings will change its name to SK Inc. and shift its investment direction as it aims to reach a market cap of 140 trillion won ($123.6 billion) by 2025, the company said Monday.
 
The holding unit of SK conglomerate, which is also in charge of investing in future businesses, shared its investment plans on Monday.
 
The general direction is to restructure the investment portfolio to focus on four main pillars: New material, bio, green and digital.
 
“Our goal is to become an investor in a sustainable future,” said SK Inc. CEO Jang Dong-hyun in a 20-minute video. “We will trash the outdated ways of a conglomerate holding company and revamp our portfolio to be focused on the four segments.”
 
In materials, SK will focus on semiconductors and electric vehicle (EV) industries, including chip materials like wafers and EV battery parts like separators and copper foils. In the bio segment where SK has benefitted from the successful IPOs of SK Bioscience and Biopharmaceuticals, the company wants to expand partnerships with smaller potential bio firms with which it hopes to reduce drug development periods to 5 years from the conventional 15 years.
 
Hydrogen will be a big theme in “green’ investments, Jang added. From hydrogen produced at SK’s oil refineries, the conglomerate is pushing efforts to complete a hydrogen value chain that includes production and distribution. The goal is to generate 2.5 trillion won in annual revenue from hydrogen businesses by 2025.
 
In the digital segment, the plan is to widen collaboration with other Asian tech partners for artificial intelligence technology.
 
Business that have little relevance to these four fields will be sold off, SK said. Combining funds earned from the sell-offs and external investors, the goal is to raise a total of 46 trillion won in the next five years.
 
At the annual general meeting on Monday, SK Inc. shareholders approved agenda items that would increase the board’s autonomy and power within the company — a move to differentiate itself from the perception that conglomerate boards are there to rubber stamp ideas from the owner and top management.
 
From this year, the board will have a larger say in the company’s human resources, holding regular assessments of the CEO and heading the search for CEO candidates.
 
On Monday, the company also pledged to reduce carbon emission across its affiliates by 65 percent in the next 10 years. In terms of working environment, it will increase the portion of female leaders to 25 percent and make sure that SK employees can choose when they work and where they work for 25 hours a week.
 
BY SONG KYOUNG-SON  [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]
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