’Dragon’ CEOs’ aim high for 2012
By Kim Jae-won
Among the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac, the dragon perhaps best fits the image of chief executives as it symbolizes power and authority in Oriental culture.
About 100 CEOs were born in the Year of the Dragon from the top 1,000 listed companies in the nation and everyone expects their firms to thrive in 2012, according to a report released Tuesday by the Korea CXO Research Center, a Seoul-based private think tank.
Hanwha Chairman Kim Seung-youn is the most well-known figure among them. Born in 1952, Kim may hope next year will be a turning point for the group, which is gearing up to diversify its business portfolio. The company has extended its reach to include the solar energy industry, targeted as the its next growth engine.
Some industry watchers say the dragon does not necessarily present a good impression of Kim. They argue that the mythical animal’s violent image reminds people of the assault he ordered on bar staff in revenge for beating up his second son in 2007.
In the finance industry, Hana Financial Group President Kim Jong-yeol was also born in the Year of the Dragon. The 59-year-old lifelong banker is enjoying one of the best times of his life as the company signed an agreement with U.S.-based Lone Star Funds to buy its 51 percent controlling stake in Korea Exchange Bank, which analysts say, will boost the group’s performance. Sources say that stakeholders of Hana will most likely extend his term once more at a shareholders’ meeting scheduled for March for his part in the 3.9 trillion won ($3.4 billion) acquisition deal.
Taeyoung Corp. Vice Chairman Yoon Seok-min, born in 1964, will face a tough time next year as the holding company of SBS has been under a special tax audit by the National Tax Service. Sources say that the tax authorities are examining whether the mid-tier construction company was involved in insider trading between its affiliates.
In the year ahead Kia Motors CEO Lee Sam-woong, born in 1952, may expect another boost. Korea’s second-largest automobile company under the umbrella of Hyundai Motor Group performed well this year with its K-series, attracting customers for their sophisticated and stylish designs. If Kia’s new electric vehicle the Ray sees a similar response from the market, Lee’s good luck may continue with the dragon’s help.
As for Korean Air President Ji Chang-hoon, he will have to weather an unpredictable business climate. The biggest Korean carrier faces a bumpy road ahead due to the European debt crisis and the high foreign currency exchange rate.
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Kwon Oh-hyun will draw attention from industry watchers as to whether he will be able to sustain the liquid crystal display business after poor results this year.