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[Super Rich] Ex-chairman’s return expected to bolster Binggrae portfolio

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Published : 2014-06-23 21:04
Updated : 2014-06-23 21:04

Kim Ho-youn, former chairman of South Korean food company Binggrae, is ready to make a comeback, and he made his intentions clear by acquiring some 26,042 of the firm’s shares. Kim now owns 34.88 percent of Binggrae.

Rumor has it that Kim, whose wealth was reported at 225 billion won ($220 million) as of 2012, will return to his managerial post six years after taking time off to pursue a political career. He was listed as a board member in March.

Kim, the younger brother of Hanwha chairman Kim Seung-youn, resigned in 2008 to run in the general election. He won a seat in the National Assembly through a by-election in 2010, but failed to retain his post in the ensuing 2012 election. 
Former Binggrae chairman Kim Ho-youn. (Yonhap)

Observers say that Kim, seen as one of President Park Geun-hye’s key corporate confidants, appears to be determined to return to the business arena.

“Kim and Park are elementary school and Sogang University alumni, and Kim took a leading role in her 2012 election camp. This means he probably could have landed a high government post, but he did not take that course, which is an indication that he is done with politics,” an insider suggested.

Kim’s potential return to Binggrae is expected to strengthen the company’s business portfolio.

As a manufacturer of nationwide hits such as Banana Flavored Milk and Melona, a melon-flavored popsicle, Binggrae recorded 50 billion won in sales overseas as of 2012. And the figure keeps rising, industry insiders say.

“The banana flavored beverage, which already holds an 80 percent domestic market share, gained huge popularity in China. About 3 billion won worth of Melonas were sold in Brazil in 2013, after being introduced as a must-have dessert on a Brazilian TV show,” a Binggrae spokesman said. “We are trying to increase our production and reinforce our sales network,” he added.

Over the years, Banana Flavored Milk has sold more than 5 billion units worldwide.

“Just when Binggrae needs an aggressive expansion, the return of Kim Ho-youn, who was named Manager of the Year in 2004 by the Korea Management Association for his careful and strategic moves, will be good news to the company and the market,” a business analyst said.

By Bae Ji-sook (baejisook@heraldcorp.com)

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