SK chairman's younger brother tapped as battery unit leader

SK chairman's younger brother tapped as battery unit leader

Chey Jae-won, right, the younger brother of SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, left, is likely to be named as head of SK On, the group’s battery unit that will undergo a management reshuffle in mid-December.

SK hynix noted for promotions of executives in their 30s, 40s

By Yi Whan-woo

Chey Jae-won, the younger brother of SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, was not on the list of newly-promoted top executives in a year-end reshuffle carried out by the conglomerate’s key affiliates, Thursday.

However, it is too early to say that the younger Chey, who was at the center of attention in the 2021 reshuffle, has been ruled out from returning to management after being freed from a five-year restriction on employment since 2016, according to some SK insiders.

SK chairman's younger brother tapped as battery unit leader

Kim Jun, new vice chairman of SK Innovation / Courtesy of SK Innovation

They noted that SK On, the group’s battery business that was recently spun off from SK Innovation, did not carry out its management overhaul, Thursday, and will do so in mid-December.

They also noted that Chey Jae-won was behind SK Group’s advance into the battery business. He noticed the potential of the EV car industry and recommended his older brother to gain a foothold in the battery market.

He also represented the conglomerate’s battery-related events as its executive vice chairman, after being released on parole in 2016 while serving a three-and-half year jail term for embezzlement.

“We will leave it to up to you over the connection between Chey Jae-won and the scheduled reshuffle of SK On regarding his possible return to management,” an SK Group official said on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, SK Group, for the first time in its history, left the reshuffle of top executives up to its respective affiliate’s board of directors, rather than directly intervening in the decision-making process. Most of the affiliates carried out their reshuffles from Monday to Tuesday.

The move was intended to spur what the conglomerate refers to as “Global Story,” a business strategy repeatedly addressed by the chairman to pioneer new markets abroad by forming partnerships with leading companies in targeted industries.

SK chairman's younger brother tapped as battery unit leader

Jang Dong-hyun, new vice chairman of SK Inc. / Courtesy of SK Inc.

The management overhaul was supposedly not as drastic as that of other large conglomerates, considering the country’s fourth-largest business group is performing well in its major areas of operation, including chips and chemicals.

The latest reshuffle included promotions of employees in their 30s and 40s to high-ranking positions. Although it is becoming a trend in the domestic business world, such a generational shift is considered to be unconventional in the rigid, hierarchical culture of Korean corporations where age still matters.

Noh Jong-won, executive vice president and head of Corporate Strategy and Planning at SK hynix, was promoted to president. Noh, 46, joined SK Group in 2003 and played key roles in various corporate acquisitions carried out by its affiliates.

He was behind the conglomerate’s acquisition of Hynix Semiconductor in 2012 and the merger between SK C&C and SK Inc., the holding company of SK Group, in 2016.

He also led acquisition of Toshiba’s memory business, TMC, as well as the launch of music streaming service, FLO. He has been serving as SK hynix’s head of Corporate Strategy and Planning since then. The semiconductor arm of SK Group also named Kwak No-jeong, who is in his 30s, as vice president.

“It is rare to see SK with top executives of such young age,” an industry source said.

SK Innovation’s president and CEO Kim Jun was promoted to vice chairman in recognition of pioneering green energy-oriented strategies and suggesting the future direction of the energy affiliate.

SK chairman's younger brother tapped as battery unit leader

Choi Kyu-nam, new president of SUPEX / Courtesy of SUPEX

SK Inc., which specializes in fostering growth engines, named its president and CEO Jang Dong-hyun as its vice chairman.

Jang successfully led investments and acquisitions, in accordance with the firm’s four pillars of high-tech materials, green technology, biotechnology and digital technology.

SUPEX, the top decision-making council of SK Group, promoted Choi Kyu-nam as its president.

Formerly the CEO of Jeju Air, Choi was hired to lead SUPEX’s investments and future strategies.

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