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GS Group chairman to hand control to his younger brother

Dec 04,2019
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Huh Chang-soo, Huh Tae-soo
GS Group Chairman Huh Chang-soo will step down and hand over his position to his younger brother Huh Tae-soo, currently the CEO of GS Home Shopping.

The country’s eighth-largest conglomerate by assets announced its year-end reshuffle Tuesday, saying its chairman has decided to step down though he has nearly two years of his term left as chairman of GS Holdings, the group’s holding unit. The major reason for the early transition, according to the group, is to speed up its digital transformation.

“Right now is a very important time for GS to become a world-class company by responding to rapidly changing business environments with a new leader with the capability to bring digital transformation,” Huh Chang-soo said in statement Tuesday. “I think I have done my part over the past 15 years by establishing a firm base for GS to become a global company.”

Huh Chang-soo has been GS chair for the last 15 years since the group split from LG Group in 2004. During his term, the group’s revenue and assets nearly tripled.

In 2004, GS Group had 15 subsidiaries with sales worth 23 trillion won ($19.4 billion) and assets worth 18 trillion won. As of the end of last year, the retail and energy conglomerate has 64 subsidiaries making 68 trillion won in revenue and holding 63 trillion won in assets.

The chairman mainly focused on increasing the global presence of GS as the domestic market becomes saturated. While overseas sales amounted to 7.1 trillion won in the first year after the group split from LG Group, sales increased fivefold to 36.8 trillion won last year, the group said.

Despite stepping down from his major roles, Huh Chang-soo will remain the honorary chairman of the group and chairman of GS Engineering & Construction. He will also likely remain chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries, a business lobbying group, until his term ends in 2021.

As chairman, Huh Tae-soo will focus on lifting GS to the next level with mobile and digital technologies. He will officially take office after earning approval at the next year’s shareholders’ meeting and board meeting.

Huh Tae-soo, according to GS Group, has been recognized for taking the home shopping business global and expanding the mobile shopping business.

In 2006, before Huh Tae-soo became CEO of the home shopping unit in 2007, the company’s net profit was 51.2 billion won. At the end of last year, its net profit had more than doubled to 120.6 billion won. Also, while the company focused mainly on its TV-based home shopping business, its mobile platform also grew from selling 730 billion won of products in 2014 to 2 trillion won of products in 2018.

GS Group also announced a reshuffle of 45 executives across all affiliates. Among them, Huh Yoon-hong, senior executive vice president at GS Engineering & Construction and the eldest son of Huh Chang-soo, has been promoted to president.

BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]