The Korea Herald


KT&G names company veteran as new CEO

By Kim Hae-yeon

Published : Feb. 23, 2024 - 14:33

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Bang Kyung-man, KT&G's senior executive vice president and CEO candidate (KT&G) Bang Kyung-man, KT&G's senior executive vice president and CEO candidate (KT&G)

KT&G Senior Executive Vice President Bang Kyung-man has been selected as the candidate for CEO of Korea's largest cigarette manufacturer, the company said Thursday.

Bang's official appointment is scheduled to be made at the end of March during the regular shareholders' meeting. If Bang is appointed, it will mark the first change in KT&G's presidency in nine years.

Earlier on Feb. 16, the company's CEO Recommendation Committee unveiled the shortlist of four candidates, including Bang and others including Kwon Gye-hyun, former vice president of Samsung Electronics, Lee Seok-joo, former CEO of AK Holdings, and Her Chul-ho, current president of Korea Ginseng Corporation. Comprehensive face-to-face interviews were conducted with each candidate to decide who would run the company for the next three years.

Having joined Korea Tobacco and Ginseng, KT&G’s predecessor, in 1998, Bang has since held various key roles within the company, including key leadership positions at global units and strategic planning divisions. He serves as one of the two executive directors on the board, alongside the current CEO Baek Bok-in.

Bang Graduated from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies with a degree in economics and later earned an MBA from the University of New Hampshire in the United States.

His tenure at KT&G has been marked by contributions particularly in areas such as brand management, global expansion and mid-to-long term strategic planning.

He played a pivotal role in expanding the export market for ESSE Change, KT&G’s ultra-slim tobacco product, during his tenure as head of the brand management office.

Bang is also acknowledged for expanding KT&G’s overseas market presence to over 100 countries during his tenure as chief operating officer.

Bang is expected to be tasked with rebuilding the firm's growth strategies, particularly on e-cigarettes.

“I will dedicate myself to ensuring that KT&G leaps forward as a 'global top-tier’ company by leading innovation and seizing future growth opportunities," Bang said upon hearing his nomination.

Meanwhile, KT&G's earnings have plateaued due to declining smoking rates and stagnant cigarette prices in recent years.

The company's operating profit has declined from 1.46 trillion won ($1.09 billion) in 2016 to 1.16 trillion won last year.

Baek, who took office in October 2015 and served consecutive terms in 2018 and 2021, is to conclude his tenure as the longest-serving president since KT&G's privatization in 2002.