Hanwha Group heir apparent Kim Dong-kwan/Courtesy of Hanwha Group

Father-to-son power transfer gets underway

Kim Dong-kwan, the eldest son of Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn, has been promoted to the vice president of the conglomerate’s unit, Hanwha Q Cells and Advanced Materials.

Hanwha said Dec. 2 that the 36-year-old Hanwha Q Cells chief commercial officer was promoted as he had successfully led the firm’s solar panel business for the past four years.

Under his stewardship, Hanwha Q Cells has grown into the top maker of solar panels in such major markets as the United States, Japan, and Germany.

Hanwha Q Cells is a manufacturer of solar power modules and automotive materials, which will merge with its sister firm Hanwha Chemical next month to become Hanwha Solution.

Then, the heir apparent of Hanwha Group is expected to take charge of the energy-focused group’s major businesses of petrochemical, materials, and solar energy.

Observers predict that the promotion will further strengthen Kim’s grip in the country’s No. 7 conglomerate, thus accelerating the father-to-son power transition.

Kim, who studied at Harvard University, got aboard Hanwha in 2010 before moving to the group’s money-losing solar energy unit two years later.

He was responsible for making a bold decision of taking over Germany’s cash-strapped Qcells in 2012 to achieve a turnaround in the solar energy business, Hanwha officials said.

Founded in 1952 as a maker of explosives by Kim Chong-hee, Hanwha group has grown into a multi-profile business conglomerate of which businesses range from defense to retail and financial services.

The founding CEO’s son Kim Seung-yeon, the current chief, took the reins of Hanwha in 1981. Kim Dong-kwan is the third-generation scion of the group.