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[Herald Interview] HanmiGlobal to enter U.S., Europe with wider portfolio

HanmiGlobal, South Korea’s leading construction management firm, is focusing on acquiring domestic and foreign engineering and architecture firms to widen its service portfolio.

The firm, already a big name in Southeast Asia with multiple projects in the region, plans to enter the U.S. and Europe in the long term.

Based on the growing global client base, HanmiGlobal’s ultimate goal is to become a total solutions provider offering a wider range of services in engineering and construction.

“Our recent acquisition of a Korean architecture company and U.S. engineering firm reflects our determination to diversify our portfolio and target markets,” Kim Jong-hoon, chairman of HanmiGlobal and a construction industry veteran, told The Korea Herald in an interview last week.

“We will aggressively target the U.S. and European market to gain a foothold in the region.”
HanmiGlobal chairman Kim Jong-hoon
HanmiGlobal chairman Kim Jong-hoon

In September, HanmiGlobal acquired an 80 percent stake in Korean architecture firm iArc to undertake design projects, an area that construction firms had not navigated before. It also took over environmental consulting company Ecosian and U.S.-based engineering firm OTAK in aims to become one of the world’s top 10 construction management companies by 2020.

Established in 1996, HanmiGlobal was the first company in the country to adopt the construction management system.

Kim, 65, who started his career at an architecture firm in 1973, said that an array of fatal accidents in the 1990s, such as the collapses of Sampoong Department Store, which killed 502 people, and Seoul’s Seongsu Bridge, became his motivation to establish his own company to “make the construction business right.”

“The role of a construction management firm is basically to represent the interests of the builder and rationally manage the project throughout the whole process to complete it successfully,” the architect-turned-chairman said.

“But awareness for the role of construction management firms are still not high in Korea, which is why we are turning to the overseas markets.”

In 2002, HanmiGlobal began overseas business by establishing a branch in Shanghai, China. The operation became a stepping stone for the firm to expand its business to Southeast Asian countries.

Kim said the company is currently working on some 22 projects in the Southeast Asian region, including the $2 billion Manila Bay Resorts in the Philippines.

“Overseas projects account for 40 percent of annual sales now and we expect it to increase with the synergy created with the acquired companies,” Kim said.

HanmiGlobal has set up an ambitious midterm plan to achieve sales of 1 trillion won ($930 million), from the current 200 billion won, and operating profit of 80 billion won by 2020.

By Park Han-na (