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SK Holdings to invest in advanced materials, green, bio, digital sectors

SK headquarters in Jongno-gu, Seoul (Yonhap)
SK headquarters in Jongno-gu, Seoul (Yonhap)
SK Holdings, an investment-focused holdings firm within SK Group, said Sunday that it will focus its investment on four business areas: advanced materials, green, bio and digital.

For investment expertise and efficiency, the company has reorganized its operations according to the four sectors, it added.

“2021 will be a meaningful year for SK Holdings in this four-way investment drive,” CEO Jang Dong-hyun said via a press release.

The company kicked off the year with a 1.6 trillion won ($1.47 billion) investment in US hydrogen fuel cell company Plug Power.

Jang said not only will SK Holdings strive to enlarge its investment portfolio of companies with high growth potential, but it will also foster an environment where it can make progress together with a diverse range of partners.

The company’s advanced materials center will search for semiconductor and battery components businesses to stay ahead in the field, which is expected to see rapid growth on the back of big data, artificial intelligence and autonomous vehicles.

SK Holdings touts its foresight in the takeovers of SK Siltron and SK Materials. SK Siltron, producer of key semiconductor component silicon wafers, was acquired by SK Holdings in August 2017 from LG Corp. SK Materials, producer of industrial gas used in the manufacturing of semiconductors and display panels, was acquired by SK Holdings in February 2016 from OCI.

The holdings firm also expanded its reach to copper foil, one of the key ingredients in electric vehicle batteries, by investing 100 billion won in China’s Wason in July 2020.

SK Holdings’ advanced materials investment center will recruit doctorate holders in chemicals, new materials and polymers to make technology-aware investments.

As for the green investment center, the team there will look at new and renewable energy and energy-saving business models for new growth momentum and to rise to the global initiative “RE100,” which aims to achieve 100 percent renewable electricity.

Alternative food, recycling and the novel use of carbon dioxide are other areas of eco-friendly business that SK Holdings is following closely.

SK Holdings’ hydrogen business team, comprising some 20 energy experts from relevant subsidiaries SK E&S, SK Innovation and more, will report directly to the CEO. The hydrogen team members have over 15 years of experience in the energy business on average, according to SK Holdings.

In the bio investment center, SK Holdings is staking its hopes on a two-track business model of novel drug development and contract manufacturing organization work.

SK Holdings has SK Biopharmaceuticals for novel drugs that affect the central nervous system. More recently, in December 2020, the holdings firm invested $200 million in US biologics firm Roivant for the latter’s AI-powered “targeted protein degraders.”

In 2021, SK Holdings is pushing to acquire France’s cell-and-gene therapy contract manufacturing and development company Yposkesi. Should this acquisition successfully materialize, SK Holdings would be complementing its CMO capacity, which so far is limited to chemicals.

SK Holdings drug CMO subsidiary SK Pharmteco, albeit with facilities in Korea, the US and Europe, can only produce chemical drugs and not biologics drugs.

Through Yposkesi, SK Holdings aims to become a top-tier CMO and a rival to Korean front-runners Samsung Biologics and Celltrion.

In the digital investment center, SK Holdings plans to fund emerging technology-based businesses in areas such as green mobility, data, global logistics infrastructure and liquefied natural gas storage.

By Lim Jeong-yeo (kaylalim@heraldcorp.com)
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