After his nomination in January, POSCO CEO Ohjoon Kwon was officially reappointed to a second three-year term as CEO at the 49th general meeting of shareholders on March 10 at POSCO Center.
In addition, President In-hwan Oh and Vice President Jeong-woo Choi were re-elected as inside directors at the general shareholders’ meeting, and Vice Presidents In-hwa Chang and Seong Yu were newly appointed as inside directors. Those appointed as new outside directors were Shin-bae Kim, former vice chairman of SK Group; Seung-hwa Jang, a professor of law at Seoul National University, and Moon-ki Jung, an associate professor of Business Administration at Sungkyunkwan University.
During his first three-year term that began in 2014, Ohjoon Kwon worked to enhance the corporate structure and profitability by focusing on strengthening POSCO’s core competitiveness as a steel company, its financial soundness, and group restructurings for his first three years in the role.
Kwon, who worked as CTO (Chief Technology Officer) before becoming the CEO, is a steel technology expert who has previously served as the director of the Technology Research Center and director of the Research Institute of Industrial Science and Technology. Under his leadership, POSCO secured exclusive technology competitiveness and also moved forward with its Solution Marketing offerings that combine hardware, steel products, software integration and application technology, commercial support, and human solutions.
POSCO significantly drove up its operating profits by 19% to KRW 2.6 trillion at the end of last year from KRW 2.2 trillion in 2013, Kwon’s first year as CEO. During the same period, its operating profit ratio also increased from 7.3% to 10.8%, POSCO’s first double-digit operating profit ratio in five years. Since Kwon’s inauguration as CEO, a total of 126 restructurings have been implemented to achieve a cumulative financial improvement of KRW 5.8 trillion by the end of last year. Its debt ratio stood at 17.4 percent, the lowest level since the foundation of POSCO.
As CEO Kwon succeeded in improving POSCO’s structure while enhancing its financial soundness and profitability. The company’s credit ratings by international credit rating agencies also improved. In October 2016 Moody’s upgraded POSCO’s long-term credit rating outlooks from Baa2 (negative) to Baa2 (stable), and in February 2017, Standard & Poor’s upgraded their rating from BBB+ (negative) to BBB+ (stable).
“With a low growth rate, higher raw material costs, and the spread of protectionism throughout the overall domestic industry, we are facing a tough business environment,” CEO Kwon said at the general shareholders’ meeting. “But we will lay the foundation for future growth and strengthen the profitability of steel.”
To this end, Kwon laid out his vision for the future to:
- strengthen the steel business by reinforcing its World Premium Products that are based on proprietary technologies such as high-manganese steel and giga-grade steel,
- solidifying the group’s business structure through structural improvements and efficiencies,
- discovering and promoting new synergy projects among group affiliates, and
- preparing a future growth engine based on smart solutions.
In-hwa Chang, who was newly appointed as an inside director, is responsible for the steel production sites at Pohang Works and Gwangyang Works. He previously served as head of the New Business Management Office, head of the Steel Solution Marketing Office and head of the Technology Investment HQ. As head of the Technology Investment HQ, Vice President Seong Yu is heading up new business endeavors such as in high value-added product technologies as well as the development of POSCO’s lithium production ventures and cathode materials business. Yu previously served as head of the New Business Management Office, head of ESM Business Office and head of the PosLX Business Group.
Outside director Shin-bae Kim is a high-profile IT business entrepreneur who served as president of SK Telecom and vice chairman of SK C&C. Due to his excellent management skills, he was promoted to become a vice chairman of the SK Group.
Outside director Seung-hwa Chang is a professor of law at Seoul National University. Previously he served as a judge of the Seoul District Court and also worked as a lawyer in the United States. As a specialist in international trade law, he worked as an arbitrator for the International Court of Arbitration and was appointed as the first Korean judge of the WTO Appellate Court.
Outside director Moon-gi Jeong is an Associate Professor of Business Administration at Sungkyunkwan University. Jeong worked at Samil PwC as a member of the Financial Supervisory Service’s Accounting Review Committee for many years and has served as the Vice Chairman of the Korean Accounting Society.
The meeting was attended by about 200 domestic and overseas shareholders including representatives of overseas shareholders and institutional investors.
At a Board of Directors meeting held after the general meeting of shareholders, POSCO elected outside director Byoung-won Park as chairman of the Board of Directors. In-hwan Oh and Jeong-woo Choi were appointed as new presidents.
In-hwan Oh, promoted to president in February, is serving as Chief Operating Officer (COO) of the Steel Division and COO of the Steel Business Division. Before, Oh served as the head of marketing and the head of the Steel Business Strategy Office. President Jeong-woo Choi is currently the head of the Corporate Strategy & Finance Center after serving as the chief financial officer, head of the Corporate Audit Department, and vice president of POSCO Daewoo.
Byoung-won Park, chairman of the Board of Directors, is now chairman of the Korea Employers’ Federation and has been working as an outside director of POSCO since 2015. Park also served as chairman of the Woori Financial Group, chairman of the Korea Federation of Banks, and chairman of the National Happiness Fund.