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Meeting between SK, Posco chiefs hints at possible battery partnership

 The private meeting between SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won and Posco Chairman Choi Jeong-woo two weeks ago has raised the possibility that the two conglomerates may partner for battery development.

The two met in Seoul on Aug. 13, both companies confirmed Tuesday without elaborating. They were accompanied by 10 top management officials from the groups’ energy, chemical and telecom units. 

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won (SK Group)
SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won (SK Group)

According to local reports and industry insiders, those who attended included SK E&S CEO Yu Jeong-joon; Yoo Young-sang, vice president of SK Telecom; Park Ki-hong, president of Posco Energy; Kim Young-sang, president of Posco International; and Min Kyung-joon, president of Posco Chemical.

The two groups have been working together for the development of liquefied natural gas and oil exploration projects. Industry watchers suggested that the meeting might have been aimed at seeking cooperation in lithium-ion battery development.

SK’s energy unit, SK Innovation, has been working to expand its auto battery business. The company plans to expand the size of its battery production by 20 times in the next six years.

Meanwhile, Posco has been investing in production of cathode materials, one of the core parts of batteries. Last month, Posco Chemical completed construction of a plant capable of producing 6,000 tons of cathode materials annually in Gwangyang, South Jeolla Province.

Last week, Posco said it had completed construction of a plant in China that will produce cathode materials for rechargeable batteries starting late this year.

Under a joint venture with China’s Huayou Cobalt, Posco built the plant in Zhejiang province, capable of producing 5,000 tons of cathode materials per year.

By Cho Chung-un (