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Korea’s chaebol enter fourth generation for first time

Doosan Group, the oldest business in Korea, has broken new ground as the first chaebol to be led by a fourth-generation heir.

Doosan Group, the oldest business in Korea, has broken new ground as the first chaebol to be led by a fourth-generation heir.

According to a company statement, Doosan chairman Park Yong-maan announced his retirement at a board meeting last week and recommended that his nephew, Park Jeong-won, take on the role.

Doosan Group may however face a probe from bourse operator Korea Exchange (KRX) thanks to a sudden surge in shares of group affiliates prior to the leadership announcement, which they say is indicative of insider trading.

An official from KRX told the Korea Times: “We are currently looking into the case to see whether possible insider trading was behind the steep ascent in share prices of Doosan Group companies during trading on Wednesday. We will examine the case in accordance with the law.”

Doosan Group took its first steps in 1896 when founder Park Seung-Jik opened a small linen store in Seoul. Today the power equipment and construction chaebol has revenues in excess of 33 trillion won ($27.6 billion).

The 120-year-old chaebol said there are likely to be no succession issues since each of the founder’s sons have led the group in the past. Park Yong-maan was the fifth son to control the group.

The generational shift comes as a surprise to many analysts considering Park Yong-maan was in the process of reversing Doosan Group’s recent poor performance: it posted 1.7 trillion won ($1.4 billion) in net losses last year.

However, a spokesman for Seoul-headquartered firm said new chairman Park Jeong-won is a “game changer” and is not afraid of challenges. The next gen is also the owner of baseball team Doosan Bears. 

Last year, another South Korean conglomerate, LG Group, broke new ground when the “ultraconservative” business appointed its first female family member to top management.

Doosan Group is the 11th largest family controlled conglomerate in Korea.


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