The Korea Herald


Hanwha’s succession plan picks up pace

Hanwha patriarch makes consecutive appearances at Hanwha Aerospace, Hanwha Robotics

By Kan Hyeong-woo

Published : April 8, 2024 - 15:53

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Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn (third from right) looks around Hanwha Robotics headquarters with Kim Dong-seon (right), his third and youngest son and the vice president of Hanwha Hotel & Resorts, on Friday. (Hanwha Group) Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn (third from right) looks around Hanwha Robotics headquarters with Kim Dong-seon (right), his third and youngest son and the vice president of Hanwha Hotel & Resorts, on Friday. (Hanwha Group)

Hanwha Group, Korea’s seventh-largest conglomerate by total assets, is poised to solidify its plan for succession, which will move from the current chairman to his three sons, as the company has taken a clearer stance on who will take charge of each business.

According to the conglomerate, Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn visited the headquarters of Hanwha Robotics in Pangyo, Gyeonggi Province, on Friday, with his youngest and third son Kim Dong-seon, who is the vice president of Hanwha Hotel & Resorts and Hanwha Robotics.

The chairman’s latest public appearance came only a week after he had visited Hanwha Aerospace’s research and development campus in Daejeon on March 29. Hanwha Group Vice Chairman Kim Dong-kwan, the chairman's oldest son, escorted his father on that visit.

The group chairman’s trip to Hanwha Aerospace marked his first on-site visit to Hanwha’s business front line in over five years. Kim’s series of public appearances and his return to the spotlight came amid a series of recent moves by the group to reshuffle its core units and other businesses.

Hanwha on Friday announced its decision to spin off Hanwha Vision, a video surveillance unit, and Hanwha Precision Machinery, a semiconductor equipment arm, from Hanwha Aerospace, a defense affiliate and one of the group’s major businesses, and establish a holdings firm tentatively named Hanwha Industrial Solutions.

The conglomerate explained that the decision was made to strengthen business competitiveness and rearrange managerial efficiency by separating the defense and industrial solution sectors.

With the latest organizational shakeup, Hanwha completed the process of aligning its defense businesses under Hanwha Aerospace. Hanwha Aerospace acquired Hanwha Defense in November 2022, Hanwha Corporation’s defense business in April last year and Hanwha Ocean, formerly known as Daewoo Shipping and Maritime Engineering, in May last year.

As Kim Dong-kwan has led Hanwha Aerospace as a co-CEO, he is expected to lead the conglomerate’s key growth engines in defense and aerospace businesses. He will also take charge of running the group’s other core sectors in chemical and energy as he has been at the forefront of Hanwha Solutions' solar power businesses in North America as the president of the renewable energy affiliate.

Hanwha Group earlier solidified the oldest son’s responsibilities as it announced on Wednesday that Hanwha Ocean will take over Hanwha E&C’s maritime wind power business and Hanwha Global’s plant business, while Hanwha Momentum will be split off with its solar power equipment businesses being acquired by Hanwha Solutions.

Kim Dong-seon, the youngest son whose business areas mostly covered the retail and leisure sectors, expanded his managerial presence when Hanwha Robotics was launched in October last year and he took on a leadership position at the new company’s strategic planning department.

Given the nature of the robotics business, the youngest son is projected to take charge of Hanwha Industrial Solutions along with Hanwha Vision and Hanwha Precision Machinery to create synergy between the industrial equipment companies.

Meanwhile, Kim Dong-won, the chairman's second son and president of Hanwha Life Insurance, has been in charge of the group’s financial affiliates after he was promoted to the top post, as well as to the position of chief global officer, in February last year.

Industry watchers said that Hanwha appears to be ironing out the wrinkles in terms of the group’s business succession and management structure with its chairman back in a healthier condition after struggling to make a public appearance amid health concerns over the last few years.