Big 4 groups lean towards ‘stability’ as year-end leadership reshuffle nears

2023.11.20 17:44:02 | 2023.11.20 18:13:04

[Courtesy of Samsung, LG, SK, and Hyundai Motor]이미지 확대

[Courtesy of Samsung, LG, SK, and Hyundai Motor]

Hyundai Motor Group initiated its executive reshuffle for the latter half of 2023 on November 17, signaling the official start of the annual personnel changes among South Korea’s major conglomerates. In a complex economic landscape, marked by sluggish demand, uncertain global economic trends, and geopolitical variables such as wars as well as the upcoming U.S. presidential and congressional elections, key business groups are forecast to stress ‘stability’ during their management reshuffle.

Industry insiders predict that Samsung, SK, Hyundai Motor, and LG will prioritize a ‘renewal within stability’ during their routine personnel changes.

Samsung Group, which usually makes regular executive and board changes in early December, may witness a reduction in executive movements this time around. Since maintaining a ‘dual leadership’ system with Vice Chairman Han Jong-hee and CEO Kyung Kye-hyun in late 2021, Samsung Group curtailed the number of its annual executive changes, with executive promotions decreasing from 214 in the 2020 year-end reshuffle to 187 in 2022. This decline aligns with increased uncertainties in the business environment, as observed by industry experts, with the ongoing trial of Samsung Electronics Chairman Jay Y. Lee adding to the variables.

An industry insider noted that while changes to infuse dynamism via young or female executives could occur, the core focus would be on stability within these conglomerates.

SK Group is expected to conduct a leadership reshuffle in early December, with this year’s changes anticipated to be more transformative than in previous years. SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won emphasized the need for the group’s survival and transformation, referring to a ‘sudden death’ scenario during the CEO seminar held in October 2023.

Of particular interest is the next move for four SK Group vice chairmen in their 60s: Cho Dae-sik, Chairman of the SK Supex Council; SK hynix Vice Chairman Park Jung-ho, SK Vice Chairman Jang Dong-hyun, and SK innovation Vice Chairman Kim Jun. The potential changes in their positions will likely shape the overall scale of personnel changes within the group.

In line with the trend of infusing new blood, SK on Co. recently hired Kim Do-kyun, 49, a former partner at Bain & Company.

Recording its highest performance on record, Hyundai Motor Group appears inclined toward ‘renewal within stability’ rather than significant changes in its year-end personnel adjustments. During the executive reshuffle on November 17, only two affiliates, Hyundai Mobis Co. and Hyundai Steel Co., saw changes in their presidents.

Particular attention is being paid to Hyundai Motor and Kia, two core affiliates that were omitted from this recent reshuffle. Considering geopolitical uncertainties and market volatility, predictions suggest that the current executive leadership structure will remain unchanged, but speculation about vice-chairman promotions, as previously suggested, were dismissed.

A second industry source highlighted the possibility of talent scouting in the software as well as research & development fields.

Concluding a month-long series of business briefings, LG Group is reportedly gearing up for significant personnel changes. Industry observations suggest that LG is unlikely to introduce major changes in the top management of its key affiliates this year, but there is ongoing speculation regarding the potential promotion of Cho Joo-wan, president of LG Electronics, and Jeong Cheol-dong, president of LG Innotek, to the vice chairman ranks.

By Chung Seung-hwan, Choi Seung-jin, Park So-ra, and Minu Kim

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