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GS chairman Huh focuses on corporate citizenship efforts

Huh Chang-soo

Huh Chang-soo
GS Group chairman Huh Chang-soo on Wednesday emphasized the corporation’s role in promoting fair competition and corporate citizenship to build public trust and attain sustainable growth.

He pledged to scale up the Korean conglomerate’s social contribution programs and foster co-prosperity with its smaller suppliers and subcontractors.

“Being accepted as a respectable corporate citizen is as critical as running a successful business,” Huh said in a meeting with executives in Seoul.

“That’s what we incorporated into our founding vision ― to become a symbol of respected value No. 1.”

GS Holdings started in 2005 as a holding company after being spun off from LG Group as part of Korea’s most far-reaching drive to restructure corporate governance in the aftermath of the 1997-8 Asian financial crisis.

While LG retains electronics and chemical businesses, GS focuses on refining, construction and retail, operating subsidiaries including GS Caltex, GS Energy, GS Engineering & Construction and GS Retail.

“GS has not only gained recognition for its sound governance structure with a holding company system but also been carrying out campaigns to boost social contribution, mutual growth with smaller partners, job opportunities and transparent transactions,” Huh said.

His remarks come amid scathing criticism that industry giants suffocate the growth of their subcontractors and preclude competition by forcing price cuts for supplies and granting lucrative orders to their own subsidiaries.

The 64-year-old chairman has been calling on all affiliates to ratchet up “sustainable competitiveness,” by bolstering co-existence with their suppliers and an innovative corporate culture.

The group created a “mutual growth” fund with local financial institutions to facilitate its partners’ financing by injecting 180 billion won ($160 million) and guaranteeing low interest rates. It has also expanded loans and direct financial support for its secondary and tertiary suppliers, company officials said.

As part of such efforts, GS Caltex, the nation’s second-largest refiner, received an “excellent” mark in the Fair Trade Commission’s assessment of mutual growth of 56 major Korean conglomerates last year.

Huh himself is one of the biggest share donators here. Since setting up a charity in 2006, he has given out some 32 billion won worth of stocks.

“We’ll continue to pursue sustainable growth by competing on a level playing field and taking responsibilities of a corporate citizen,” Huh said at the meeting.

By Shin Hyon-hee (heeshin@heraldcorp.com)
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