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Conglomerates begin executive reshuffle

South Korean conglomerates have started to carry out their annual reshuffles of executives this week, while they try to remain low-profile amid the ongoing prosecutors’ investigation into alleged corporate lobbying involving the South Korean president.

The reshuffles started with GS Group on Tuesday, and LG Group is likely to implement changes in executive positions later this week.

Samsung Group, meanwhile, has postponed their announcement to mid-December, breaking its tradition of delivering the list on the first week of the month, in the face of the ongoing investigation. The prosecution has questioned Samsung executives, including Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong over a one-on-one meeting he had with President Park Geun-hye last year.

SK Group, another conglomerate implicated in the scandal, is also likely to release their list in mid-December, while Hyundai Motor Group plans to announce promotions of executives at the end of the month.

On Tuesday, GS Group Chairman Huh Chang-soo promoted his younger brother Huh Jin-soo, CEO and vice chairman of the group’s oil refinery arm GS Caltex, to a chairman post.

Since entering Honam Oil Refinery in 1986, Huh Jin-soo served various posts within the company, building his career as a petrochemical expert for 30 years. He was appointed as GS Caltex CEO in 2013.

GS Caltex Chairman Huh Jin-soo (GS)
GS Caltex Chairman Huh Jin-soo (GS)


The list of executives promoted this year also includes Jung Taik-keun, the president of GS Corp. who was promoted to vice chairman, and Ha Young-bong, president of GS Energy. Yeo Eun-joo, head of GS Corp.’s public relations division was also made a vice president.

Jung Taik-keun, vice chairman of GS Corp. (GS)
Jung Taik-keun, vice chairman of GS Corp. (GS)


At LG Group, the nation’s fourth-largest conglomerate, Koo Bon-joon, vice chairman at LG Corp., is likely to steal the limelight of the planned reshuffle this week.

Koo, the younger brother of LG Group Chairman Koo Bon-moo, was relocated to lead the group’s next growth engine businesses last year from LG Electronics. The division Koo has been leading is set to be integrated with a management division of LG Corp. next year, paving the way for him to oversee overall operations of the group and its affiliates.

Koo Bon-joon, vice chairman of LG Corp. (LG Group)
Koo Bon-joon, vice chairman of LG Corp. (LG Group)


LG Electronics, meanwhile, is likely to keep its three-man leadership system. Since Koo Bon-joon’s departure, the tech giant has been led by two division heads each in charge of home appliances and mobile communication, and a CFO.

The group promoted Han Sang-beom to LG Display vice chairman last year, on the back of the panel making unit’s robust sales growth. It remains to be seen whether the group will promote one of three leaders, including Cho Sung-jin, head of LG Electronics’ home appliance division, according to insiders, citing the company’s weaker-than-expected sales this year.

Meanwhile, retail giant Shinsegae Group on Wednesday promoted Lee Gab-soo, CEO and vice president of E-mart, to a president post, ending his dual management system with E-mart Vice Chairman Kim Hae-sung. Shortly after the announcement, Kim offered to resign.

By Cho Chung-un (christory@heraldcorp.com)

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