LG chairman Koo strengthens grip on group

Shareholders of LG Chem approved Chief Operating Officer (COO) Kwon Young-soo as the new chairman of its board of directors.

The approval means the COO is now the board chairman of four of LG’s core affiliates, with LG Uplus, LG Display and LG Electronics making up the other three. Kwon is considered a close confidante of the group’s young chairman, Koo Kwang-mo.

The four LG affiliates for which Kwon is board chair are the conglomerate’s most important growth drivers; however, investors were disappointed about the worsening financial results of the group’s affiliates.

LG officials remained cautious about the appointment of Kwon and his leadership of the group’s four tech affiliates. Nevertheless, there are thoughts that Kwon will be more open and candid when communicating with CEOs of the group’s four units, which could boost possible synergistic effects and accelerate decision making.

“LG is seeking to make the entire group more focused and efficient. The COO will continue to support Chairman Koo; however, he will be quite aggressive in strategizing and exploring what would be LG’s new businesses with more candid communications,” an LG executive said.

Kwon is a veteran businessman with an outspoken and fearless leadership style, which helped him to expand his rich global network. He has previously held CEO positions at LG Display and LG Uplus, and was a finance chief at LG Electronics.

The COO significantly helped LG Display and LG’s battery business rise as a top-tier company in the business segment.

When Kwon was the top executive at LG Display, the group’s display-making affiliate begun supplying its in-house displays to be used in iPhones and iPads. After the death of the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, Kwon’s business relationship with Apple CEO Tim Cook has developed.

This connection helped Kwon to further expand his global networks to top brasses at other leading technology companies such as Panasonic, Sony and Chinese TV manufacturers.

Under his touch, LG’s battery business saw whopping increases in terms of clients as sizable business agreements with General Motors and other leading carmakers were made at the time of his staying at LG Chem. Now, LG Chem is the world’s leading battery supplier. Decades ago he was also a core driver to win a billion dollar investment from Philips of the Netherlands to create a joint investment called LG Philips LCD.

“LG Chairman Koo needs ‘buy time’ before controlling the group which means the COO Kwon’s support could continue until then. Given the COO’s richness in finance and strategy, it’s worth seeing what Kwon and CEOs at the four technology affiliates focusing and deliverables could be,” another LG executive said.

LG Display is nowhere to be seen in all aspects from market share to profitability and LG Chem is also expected to see a drop in its profits during the fourth quarter of this year. LG Uplus and LG Electronics are facing deep challenges to move away from the current stagnant business momentum.

―Korea Times

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