SK Group said Monday its seven manufacturing units’ combined exports set a record high of $14.1 billion in the first quarter of this year, thanks to robust sales of petrochemical products.
With the share of exports in sales exceeding 70 percent for the first time, the group said it has successfully turned into an export-driven conglomerate after a decade of efforts.
Sales of the seven affiliates ― SK Innovation, SK Energy, SK Global Chemical, SK Lubricants, SKC, SK Chemicals and SK Hynix ― neared $19.4 billion in the first quarter, of which $14.1 billion came from exports.
The export figure represents 77.1 percent growth from $8 billion in the same period last year when the sales of its recently acquired chipmaker SK Hynix were not included, the group said.
According to the nation’s third-largest conglomerate, its exports made up 10.5 percent of the nation’s total exports worth 134.9 billion in the first quarter, up from 6.1 percent a year earlier.
SK said it is expecting to hit record exports of some $55 billion this year for the first time. Last year, the group recorded $40.2 billion, of which exports accounted for 62 percent.
By unit, SK Innovation, the nation’s top refiner, posted more than 11 trillion won in exports by entering high value-added petroleum product markets and expanding its presence in overseas markets.
The share of exports in sales for SK Lubricants and SK Hynix also amounted to 87 percent and 93 percent, respectively, the group said.
“Even though the nation’s overall exports are weakening this year amid a global economic slowdown this year, SK has continued its strong performance driven by a surging demand for petroleum products and polyester film,” an SK official said.
Since taking office in 1998, chairman Chey Tae-won has also been pushing to boost exports as the group’s key growth strategy globally.
Under his leadership, the group’s exports surged 14-fold over the past decade from $970 million in the first quarter in 2002 to more than $14 billion this year.
The share of exports in sales also jumped from 30.8 percent in 1997 to 50 percent in 2008, 60 percent in 2011 and 70 percent this year.
This year Chey announced an unprecedented investment plan worth 19.1 trillion won, saying “With the acquisition of Hynix, this year should be the starting point of the group’s growth as a global player.”
“The economic situation in Korea and abroad is not positive but SK will continue to expand contribution to the nation’s economic growth through export-driven management,” said another official. “This year will become a year when SK secures its status as a global export company.”
By Lee Ji-yoon (email@example.com