South Korea’s LG Group chairman dies from illness at 73

LG Group chairman Koo Bon-moo meets US President Barack Obama (not pictured) as they attend the groundbreaking of a factory for Compact Power Inc. in Holland, Michigan, US. (Reuters)
Updated 20 May 2018
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South Korea’s LG Group chairman dies from illness at 73

  • The chairman of South Korea’s LG Group, Koo Bon-moo, passed away on Sunday after a year-long battle with brain disease
  • Prior to its chairman’s death, LG Group had established a holding company in order to streamline ownership structure and begin the process of succession

SEOUL: The chairman of South Korea’s LG Group, Koo Bon-moo, instrumental to transforming the country’s fourth-largest conglomerate into a global brand, passed away on Sunday after a year-long battle with brain disease.
LG Group said in a statement Koo, 73, had been ill for a year.
A group official said Koo had been fighting a brain disease and had undergone surgery. The official declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.
“Becoming the third chairman of LG at the age of 50 in 1995, Koo established key three businesses — electronics, chemicals and telecommunications — led a global company LG, and contributed to driving (South Korea’s) industrial competitiveness and national economic development,” LG said.
Under Koo’s leadership, the conglomerate changed its corporate brand to LG from Lucky Goldstar and sold LG’s semiconductor business to Hyundai, now SK Hynix Inc, under government-led restructuring in the wake of the Asia financial crisis in the late 1990s.
Major affiliates are LG Electronics Inc, display maker LG Display and electric car battery maker LG Chem.
Prior to its chairman’s death, LG Group had established a holding company in order to streamline ownership structure and begin the process of succession.
The country’s powerful family-run conglomerates are implementing generational succession amid growing calls from the government and public to improve transparency and corporate governance.
LG Corp, a holding company of the electronics-to-chemicals conglomerate, said on Thursday its longtime chairman was unwell and planned to nominate his son to its board of directors in preparation for a leadership succession.
Heir apparent Koo Kwang-mo is from the fourth generation of LG Group’s controlling family. He owns 6 percent of LG Corp. and works as a senior official at LG Electronics.
The senior Koo’s younger brother, the group’s vice chairman Koo Bon-joon, who led LG Electronics for many years, effectively managed the conglomerate in his stead.
South Korean prosecutors said this month they raided LG Group’s head office as part of a probe into alleged tax evasion by family members controlling the conglomerate.
Analyst do not see a change at the helm being disruptive to the group’s business.
“Although Koo passed away at a relatively early age, his son has been already in a senior position and I don’t think there will be a big change in governance structure or strategic decisions,” said Park Ju-gun, head of corporate analysis firm CEO Score.
The company said Koo’s funeral would be held privately at the request of the family.


World’s biggest sovereign fund worried about trade wars

Updated 21 August 2018
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World’s biggest sovereign fund worried about trade wars

  • The fund posted a positive return of 1.8 percent, or 167 billion kroner ($19.8 billion), in the second quarter
  • Markets are worried about a trade dispute between the United States and China

OSLO: The managers of Norway’s sovereign wealth fund, the world’s biggest, expressed concern Tuesday about global trade tensions, which could heavily impact its value.
The fund posted a positive return of 1.8 percent, or 167 billion kroner ($19.8 billion), in the second quarter, helping erase a loss of 171 billion kroner in January-March that was attributed to a volatile stock market.
The Government Pension Fund Global, which saw its total value swell to 8.33 trillion kroner by the end of June, manages the country’s oil revenues in order to finance Norway’s generous welfare state when its oil and gas wells run dry.
But Norway’s central bank, which runs the fund, said geopolitical and trade tensions presented a risk.
“It’s fair to say that increased trade barriers or even trade wars will not be beneficial for the fund as a long-term global investor,” Trond Grande, the deputy chief of Norges Bank Investment Management, told reporters.
Markets are worried about a trade dispute between the United States and China. Accusing Beijing of unfair competition, the US administration is considering slapping a new round of levies worth $200 billion on Chinese goods.
Talks between the two slated for Wednesday and Thursday aimed at resolving the dispute have however eased concerns somewhat.
Following US-Turkey tensions that sent the Turkish lira and the Istanbul stock market tumbling, the Norwegian fund said its assets there were worth less than the 23 billion kroner they were at the beginning of the year.
“We’ve seen the market rise for a long time, that there are different political and geopolitical events in the world that can affect the market, and we have to be prepared for the fact that (the value of) the fund can go down a lot,” Grande concluded.
The fund’s strong second quarter was attributed primarily to its share portfolio, which accounts for 66.8 percent of its investments and which rose by 2.7 percent.
Real estate holdings, which account for 2.6 percent of its holdings, rose by 1.9 percent, while bond investments, which represent 30.6 percent, remained flat.
Faced with falling oil revenues in recent years, the Norwegian government has been tapping the fund to finance public spending since 2015. But with oil prices recovering, the fund registered its first inflow in three years in June.