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Hanwha’s heir apparent drives global solar energy business

Kim Dong-kwan
Kim Dong-kwan
Kim Dong-kwan, 31, the heir apparent of Hanwha Group, is expanding his leadership role in the solar energy business, the group’s future growth engine, as the group suffers a leadership vacuum.

The group, which is the nation’s 10th-largest conglomerate by assets, has been run by the “emergency management committee” composed of experienced executives from across the group since last August when group owner and chairman Kim Seung-youn received a four-year jail term for embezzlement.

Last week, Hanwha Group appointed Kim, the eldest son of the group chairman, as the chief strategy officer of Hanwha Q Cells in Thalheim, Germany. Hanwha Q Cells, which the conglomerate acquired last year under its vision to become the top energy solution provider in the world, is a global leading photovoltaic company, providing solutions for solar cells, modules and solar power plants.

His relocation to Germany is his second move within the group’s solar energy business units. He made the first move in December 2010 as he took the position of chief strategy officer at China-based Hanwha SolarOne, one of the group’s key overseas solar energy business-related affiliates, together with Hanwha Q Cells.

Hanwha acquired Hanwha SolarOne to build a vertically integrated solar power business portfolio in August 2010. The company manufactures an array of solar power solutions ranging from silicon ingots and wafers to photovoltaic cells to modules.

“Kim left Hanwha SolarOne and started serving at Hanwha Q Cells this week. In his new role, he will focus on strengthening the company’s presence in the important European solar energy market, while accelerating the further development of the company’s technology and the global market leadership,’’ the group said in a press release.

Despite his young age, market watchers have paid attention to Kim’s leadership as the group heir in the absence of his father. The group chairman had selected the solar energy business as Hanwha Group’s future growth engine.

Kim’s leadership, in particular, in the overseas solar power business has been praised thanks to the past year’s business performance. Despite a continued fall in demand for solar energy solutions, Hanwha’s two key overseas solar energy arms ― Hanwha SolarOne and Hanwha Q Cells ― each increased their capacity by about 70 percent, according to the company. 

The younger Kim received his bachelor’s degree in government from Harvard University and started his professional career at Hanwha in January 2010.

By Seo Jee-yeon (