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M&As

Hanwha seeks more M&A targets: Group’s heir apparent

The conglomerate sets hydrogen, solar power and aerospace as its key growth drivers

By Sep 10, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)

Hanwha Group's heir apparent Kim Dong-kwan with its air taxi prototype
Hanwha Group's heir apparent Kim Dong-kwan with its air taxi prototype

Hanwha, the South Korean chemicals-to-financial conglomerate, has been a key player in the M&A market with a series of acquisitions in recent years in the hydrogen, solar power and aerospace businesses.

Nonetheless, Hanwha Group is looking for more merger and acquisition targets as it builds its business portfolio around these three growth sectors.

“We still hunger for more big deals,” said Kim Dong-kwan, the eldest son of Hanwha Chairman Kim Seung-youn and the group’s heir apparent, in a recent interview with The Korea Economic Daily.

The junior Kim is also the chief executive of Hanwha Solutions Corp., the energy unit of Hanwha Group.

“Successfully completing the already announced mergers and acquisitions is a top priority for now. But we’re also reviewing more investments in various sectors,” he said.

Last month, Hanwha Solutions said it is acquiring a 100% stake in RES Mediterranee SAS, a French wind and solar power plant operator, for 727 million euros or 984.3 billion won ($860 million).

The acquisition will not only help enhance Hanwha’s presence in Europe’s renewable energy market but also create synergy with the group’s solar energy affiliate, Hanwha Q CELLS Co., which currently has the rights to develop 10 GW in renewable energy globally.

On Thursday, Hanwha QCELLS said it is investing 1.5 trillion won in solar power research and technology advancement projects until 2025 to raise its annual cell and module production capacity to 7.6 GW by 2025 from the current 4.5 GW.

Hanwha Systems Co., the defense and air mobility unit of the conglomerate, said in mid-August it is acquiring an 8.8% stake in UK’s satellite communications firm OneWeb for $300 million to expand its presence in the growing commercial space market.

Hanwha Systems is investing 0 million in UK satellite communications firm OneWeb.
Hanwha Systems is investing $300 million in UK satellite communications firm OneWeb.

GROUP-WIDE TASK FORCE

The deal followed Hanwha’s launch in March of Space Hub, a group-wide task force handling all future mobility-related projects. The task force is led by Kim Dong-kwan.

In an effort to expand its urban air mobility (UAM) business, Hanwha also purchased a 30% stake in US air taxi startup Overair for $25 million in January 2020.

In partnership with Overair, Hanwha Systems is developing Butterfly, a personal air vehicle.

Hanwha Systems said last month it is also acquiring $30 million in convertible bonds issued by Overair to tighten its UAM partnership.

“We’re aiming to commercialize our UAM technology by 2025. We’re ready to spend more in that area to secure needed technology,” said the junior Kim.

Hanwha Solutions is buying French wind and solar power plant firm RES Mediterranee.
Hanwha Solutions is buying French wind and solar power plant firm RES Mediterranee.

HYDROGEN-LNG MIXED GAS TURBINE

He also explained why Hanwha General Chemical Co. in April acquired US-based Power Systems Manufacturing (PSM) and Netherland’s Thomassen Energy to secure technology to convert an LNG gas turbine into a hydrogen-powered one.

“Power generating firms will increasingly avoid LNG gas turbines, which create more greenhouse gases. A hydrogen-LNG mixed turbine could be a realistic alternative,” he said.

Hanwha General Chemicals, which recently changed its name to Hanwha Impact Co., said last month it has teamed up with Korea Western Power Co. to test mixed hydrogen combustion technology that burns liquefied natural gas together with hydrogen to generate electricity.

The higher the proportion of hydrogen-enriched combustion is, the lower carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions are. That also improves energy efficiency, he said.

Write to Kyung-Ming Kang at Kkm1026@hankyung.com

In-Soo Nam edited this article.

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