Hanwha Group recognizes 40 years of leadership under Kim Seung-youn
A celebratory event was omitted due to Covid-19, but Kim will deliver a short speech through the company's in-house broadcast on Aug. 2.
“Hanwha’s growth and innovation for the past 40 years was possible because our Hanwha family was all together,” Kim said in a release Sunday.
“With a never-give-up spirit, let’s march toward becoming a 100-year-old company.”
Kim, born in 1952, took the helm of Hanwha Group in 1981 when the company’s businesses were largely focused on the defense and chemical industries. Its total assets were then 754.8 billion won ($655.7 million), and its revenue stood at 1.1 trillion won, ranking ninth among Korean conglomerates.
Under Kim’s leadership, the company continued to grow to now become the country's seventh largest company with 217 trillion won in total assets, posting a nearly 290-fold increase compared to when he first took office.
The group's revenue also grew by 60 times.
Hanwha Group’s initial growth derived from aggressive mergers and acquisitions lead by Kim.
M&As drive growth
Hanwha, which started as an explosive manufacturer in the ruins of the Korean War in the early 1950s, started to diversify its business portfolio when Kim came to the helm.
In 1982, right after being appointed as chairman, Kim pushed for acquisitions of Hanyang Chemical and Dow Chemical Korea which were in the red due to the aftermath of the oil shock.
“Company executives at the time opposed Kim’s plan of acquiring the two companies, but Kim insisted on the deal, saying the petrochemical industry’s future is not as bad and the global economy will rebound soon,” the company explained.
One year after the deal, the two companies returned to the black.
Hanwha Solutions' chemical division, which incorporated the two chemical companies, still stands as the group’s core business unit.
Kim’s M&A initiative didn’t stop there.
Hanwha’s next stop was in retail and finance businesses.
In 1985, Hanwha Group acquired Junga Group and Hanyang Stores which became what are today known as Hanwha Hotels & Resorts and Hanwha Galleria.
In 2002, Kim looked to acquire Korea Life Insurance, which was in severely bad shape at the time with an accumulated deficit of over 2 trillion won after the Asian financial crisis. Kim acquired the company regardless and turned the insurer to profit six years later. The total asset of Korea Life Insurance, which is today’s Hanwha Life, now stands at 127 trillion won.
In 2015, Hanwha vied to become a top player in the country’s defense industry by acquiring four affiliates of Samsung — Samsung Techwin, Samsung Thales, Samsung General Chemicals and Samsung Total Petrochemicals — to expand the group’s defense and chemical businesses.
The acquisition resulted in Hanwha Aerospace, Hanwha Defense and Hanwha Systems among others, propelling the group to the top of the country's defense industry and laying the groundwork for the group’s future growth engine in aerospace.
Kim's core value in business lies in trust and loyalty, Hanwha explains, and that value will continue in Hanwha Group's new challenges in the future.
Promise for the future
"Hanwha is going to be proactive in achieving net zero carbon emissions, as it is a promise made to future generations," Hanwha Group said. "Such a sense of mission is evident in Hanwha's aerospace business. It is an unwalked path and it doesn't promise short-term profit. But Hanwha has decided to go down this path for the future generations."
Hanwha Group early this year launched a dedicated aerospace task force team dubbed the Space Hub to spearhead investment and recruitment for aerospace businesses. Kim's eldest son Kim Dong-kwan was appointed to head the team.
In partnership with KAIST, the team also announced 10 billion won worth of investment into research projects dedicated to intersatellite-link technology.
Hanwha says it will dig deeper into developing private spaceships and commercializing satellites.
Aerospace is not the only future-oriented business Hanwha is diving into.
In partnership with U.S.-based personal air vehicle developer Overair, Hanwha Systems is working to bring an urban air mobility service dubbed the Butterfly to the market in the near future. It plans to finish the research by 2024 and initiate a pilot run in 2025.
Through the acquisition of hydrogen technology companies PSM based in the U.S. and Thomassen Energy based in the Netherlands, Hanwha Group is also vying to take th lead in manufacturing and transporting green hydrogen.
"Hanwha's future business challenge is based on environment, social and governance [ESG] management," Hanwha said.
BY JIN EUN-SOO firstname.lastname@example.org]