U.S. Georgia Senator in town to cement ties with Korean tycoons

2021.11.10 09:46:03 | 2021.11.10 10:06:54

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won shakes hands with U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff during the meeting at SK이미지 확대

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won shakes hands with U.S. Senator Jon Ossoff during the meeting at SK"s headquarters in Seoul on Nov. 9, 2021. [Photo provided by SK Group]

Jon Ossoff, U.S. Senator from Georgia, is in town for a packed meeting schedule with South Korean tycoons Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Eui-sun and SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won with pledges in massive investments.

According to multiple sources from the political and related business circle, Ossoff met SK managers on Tuesday evening including SK Group Chairman Chey, Ji Dong-seop, chief executive of SK On, pure-play battery unit recently spun off from SK Innovation Co., and Lee Wan-jae, chief executive of SKC Co., chemical and tech materials producing unit of SK Group. SK On and SKC both have large-scale production sites in Georgia.

Chey in his recent U.S. visit had pledged 52 billion won ($44.1 million) in the U.S. through 2030.

SK Group has been long established in Georgia. SK On and SKC have carried out the first and single largest investment in Georgia as a Korean firm. The conglomerate has been enhancing ties with the political scene in Georgia and academia and other regional society.

SK On is currently building its No. 1 and 2 battery plants in Georgia at a cost of 3 trillion won. The No. 1 plant will supply batteries to Volkswagen factory in the U.S. as early as in the end of this year. The construction of the No. 2 plant will be complete in 2022 and supply batteries to U.S. Ford.

SK On – which has been in forefront in electric vehicle expansion in the U.S. – will have created about 3,000 jobs in Georgia.

SKC has also been expanding in the state. Last month, the company announced to commercialize world’s first glass substrate for high-performance computing and build a chip glass substrate production base in its site in Georgia. SKC will invest $80 million by 2023 to build a 12,000 square meter production facility. SKC maintains ties with Georgia Institute of Technology.

SKC was the first SK Group affiliate to advance into Georgia. It built a large-scale film production plant in the state in 1999, which currently has been transformed into a PET film production plant. SKC is considering Georgia as a candidate for its additional battery copper foil production plant.

Ossoff – a rising political star and youngest member of the Senate – meanwhile earlier in the day toured Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp.’s Namyang R&D Center in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, on Tuesday.

Kia Motors operates a manufacturing facility in Georgia.

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According to sources, Ossoff met with Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung and other executives at the center and discussed Kia Motors’ plans for vehicle development and future investment plans in Georgia.

Kia Motors has been running a car production plant in Georgia for over 10 years. Discussions may have involved possible investment related to Hyundai Motor’s electric vehicle production in the U.S.

Ossoff plans to meet with officials from Hanwha Group, including Lee Koo-yung, chief executive of Hanwha Q Cells, which operates a 1.7 gigawatt solar power module plant in Georgia. The factory is considered Hanwha Group’s base for solar power business in North America.

Hanwha Q Cells has been rapidly penetrating the U.S. market for household solar power modules and commercial solar power modules, accounting for the largest market share last year for three and two consecutive years, respectively.

Ossoff is expected to meet with Samsung officials before he leaves. Taylor, Texas is considered a strong candidate site for Samsung’s new chip plant in the U.S.

By Han Ye-kyung, Lee Yoon-jae, Seo Jin-woo, and Lee Eun-joo

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