Heir apparent at LG is made a V.P.

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Heir apparent at LG is made a V.P.

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LG Group’s heir-apparent Koo Kwang-mo was promoted to executive-level status as Korea’s fourth-largest conglomerate kicked off the chaebol reshuffle season.

LG Group on Thursday announced its annual executive reshuffle in core affiliates including LG Electronics, LG Chem and its holding company LG Corporation. The group will announce reshuffles at other affiliates such as LG U+, LG Hausys and LG Household and Health Care on Friday. All new appointments are effective Jan. 1, 2015, the group said.

The highlight of the reshuffle this year was the promotion of LG Group Chairman Koo Bon-moo’s only son, who is currently a general manager at LG Corporation. The company said that Koo Kwang-mo, 36, was promoted to executive director.

Industry observers said that Koo’s promotion indicates that the succession process at LG Group has genuinely started. The 69-year-old Koo also became an executive at the same age.

The younger Koo, who graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, is actually the son of Bon-moo’s younger brother Koo Bon-neung, who is chairman of Heesung Group and commissioner of the Korea Baseball Organization. But Bon-moo adopted him in 2004 because he has no son but two daughters. LG has a tradition of passing down control of the group to the chairman’s oldest son.

Kwang-mo is currently the fourth-largest private shareholder in the group’s holding company, LG Corporation, with 4.75 percent. He has the largest share among the fourth generation of LG’s owner families.

The young Koo started his career in LG as an assistant manager on LG Electronics’ financial team in 2006. After finishing his MBA at Stanford University in 2009, he was promoted to manager and also worked as deputy general manager at LG Electronics’ home entertainment division in New Jersey. He joined LG Corp. last April working for the synergy division, which is designed to make affiliates work most efficiently together.

Apart from Koo’s promotion, LG’s executive-level reshuffle this year wasn’t too severe, as most CEOs or division leaders retained their positions. But LG Electronics did replace the head of its mobile phone business and promoted 48 executives.

Korea’s second-largest electronics company said that LG Corporation President Cho Jun-ho (Juno Cho) will take charge of its mobile communication division starting next year, replacing Park Jong-seok, who will be working as a chief technical adviser. LG Group added that Park, who was expected to stay in his position after the success of the LG G3 smartphone, has personal health issues.

Industry insiders said that Cho’s appointment shows the company is trying to boost its smartphone sales. The 55-year-old Cho, who graduated from Seoul National University and earned an MBA at Chicago University, is considered a marketing expert. From 2000 to 2007, he led LG Electronics’ mobile business strategy and sales and marketing for North America.

Under his command, LG’s mobile phone business rose aggressively in North America, reaching nearly 20 percent of the market in 2007. The achievement later led him to become the youngest CEO at LG Corporation at the age of 50.

LG Group said that Cho’s position will be filled by LG Electronics President Ha Hyun-hoi, who is leading the home entertainment (HE) division, which manages the television business. The 58-year-old Ha, who worked at LG since 1985, was LG Corporation’s synergy division leader before he led LG Electronics’ HE division this year. He is expected to closely work with the chairman and his son.

Kwon Bong-suk, who is currently head of the synergy division of LG Corporation, will be promoted to executive vice president and CEO of LG Electronics’ HE division. As an MBA graduate from the University of Helsinki, Kwon was previously responsible for the HE division’s monitor business and helped the company become No. 1 in the LED monitor market. His new task will be leading the company to be a top player in the global OLED TV market.

For the newly created home appliance and air solution division, Jo Seong-jin, the current head of home appliance, will be the leader, the company said.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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