Hyundai Motor Group set to invest record $9.45 bn in automobile business

South Korea’s largest automotive group Hyundai Motor Group will invest a record 10 trillion won ($9.45 billion) in the car business alone this year. This year’s planned investment increased 500 billion won from that of last year.

The group is forecast to focus on investing in research and development (R&D) this year as it decided to boost investment without a plan to build new plants, unlike it did last year.

Hyundai Motor Group said Tuesday it decided to invest 10 trillion won in the group’s automobile business including Hyundai Motor, Kia Motors, Hyundai Mobis, Hyundai Kefico, and Hyundai Autron this year. Last year, the group had made investment worth 9.50 trillion won in the car business. The group’s investment in the automobile segment this year will be devoted to research facilities which have been restructured in the beginning of this year. In other words, most of the funds will be spent on R&D and quality control.

For full article, see Maeil Business.

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Hyundai Oilbank and Shell break ground on base oil plant

South Korea’s refiner Hyundai Oilbank joined forces with the global energy giant Shell Petroleum in a bid to enter into the base oil market. Hyundai Shell Base Oil held a groundbreaking ceremony Tuesday for the base oil manufacturing plant, to be built in Daesan, South Chungcheong Province.

Hyundai Shell Base Oil is a joint venture where Hyundai owns a 60 percent stake in the company while Shell controls the remaining 40 percent.

The new plant will be built on a 33,000 square-meter-site (about 10,000 pyeong) with the daily input to reach around 20,000 barrels. The plant will be operational right after the construction is completed in the latter half (H2) of next year.

For full article, see Maeil Business.

Samsung SDI ranks top globally in lithium-ion battery business last year

2013_01_SDI_batterySouth Korea’s leading lithium-ion battery maker Samsung SDI retained its top rank in the world with the largest shipment, 1.1 billion cells of lithium rechargeable batteries last year.  Samsung SDI recorded a market share of 22.4 percent and widened its gap with the second and third largest companies.
Of the world’s total shipment of 4.9 billion cells, Samsung SDI’s accounted for the largest share of 22.4 percent in 2012, said market research firm SNE Research Monday. Panasonic ranked second with a 16.3 percent market share and the shipment of 800 million cells, followed by LG Chem with a 14.8 percent market share and the shipment of 725 million cells and Sony with a 7.2 percent market share and the shipment of 3.53 million cells.

For full article, see Maeil Business.

South’s Naro space rocket set to launch on Jan. 30

South Korea will again seek to join the elite global space club next week with a third launch of its Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1), the science ministry said yesterday.

The space rocket, also known as Naro, will be launched Wednesday from the country’s Naro Space Center, 480 kilometers (299 miles) south of Seoul, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said in a released statement. The decision came at a meeting of the Launch Preparation Committee.

“After reviewing launch preparations and weather forecasts, the committee has confirmed the third launch of the Naro will be possible on Jan. 30 as of now,” the ministry said.

The launch committee earlier set Jan. 30-Feb. 8 as candidate dates for the scheduled launch. It will be South Korea’s third attempt to send the KSLV-1 into space after its two attempts in 2009 and 2010 ended in failures.

For full article, see Joongang Daily.

Royalty payments near $8b

2013_01_royalty paymentsKorea spent about $7.7 billion on royalty payments, including the usage of intellectual property rights, to foreign firms for the first 11 months of 2012, data from the Bank of Korea and Idea Bridge Asset Management showed Wednesday.

The payments posted a 5.5 percent growth from the previous year, according to the central bank. But royalties paid to local information technology firms remained at $3.24 billion during that period, bringing the overall balance to a deficit of $4.45 billion, according to data.

Citing the growing burden on royalty expenses, BOK economists said that Korean tech firms ― which engaged in a series of legal litigations regarding intellectual property rights ― and other business entities need to make stronger effort to create their original technologies.

For full article see Korea Herald.

Seoul to set definite date for launch of Naro space rocket

South Korea will this week set a more definite date for the liftoff of its Korea Space Launch Vehicle-1 (KSLV-1), the government said Wednesday. The country’s Launch Preparation Committee earlier set Jan. 30-Feb. 8 as possible dates for what will be its third launch of KSLV-1, also known as Naro.

“The committee will be convened at 11 a.m. Thursday and select a launch date within the candidate dates after reviewing technical preparations and weather conditions,” the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said in a statement.

The country’s first two attempts to send the KSLV-1 into space in 2009 and 2010 ended in failures. A successful launch of the space rocket will make the country the world’s 13th nation to send a satellite into space from its own soil. The third launch of the KSLV-1 was originally set to take place on Oct. 26 but was delayed due to a damaged rubber seal in the connector between the rocket and the launch pad.

For full article see Korea Herald.

President-elect has substantial plans for small & medium sized companies

In January, the Presidential Transition Committee announced a governmental restructuring plan. The plan includes the establishment of the Ministry of Future, Creation, and Science. The new ministry is expected to cover national research and development as well as information and communication technology (ICT), establishing itself as one of the key organizations of the Park Geun-hye administration. The ministry is expected to employ roughly one thousand employees.

During her campaign, Park emphasized that she would promote the nation’s science and technology sector as a main growth engine for Corporate Korea. The new ministry is expected to contribute to the realization of Park’s hope to energize the Korean economy through the promotion of science and technology.

Political observers say that Park and her administration will seek ways to address various problems facing the Korean economy by focusing on areas where Korea has an established competitive edge such as information and communications technology. President-elect Park has pledged to renew the focus on ICT by appointing a vice minister to be in charge of information and communications technology. Korea Communication Commission, Ministry of Public Administration and Security, and Ministry of Knowledge Economy were responsible for ICT matters under President Lee Myung-bak.

In terms of government spending, the new ministry is expected to allocate an annual budget of more than 20 trillion won for Korea’s research, development, and ICT projects.

For full article, see Korea IT Times.

Carriers see savior in LTE-Advanced

Although mobile carriers have heavily invested in and are promoting long-term evolution (LTE), they are already preparing to offer an upgraded connection called LTE-Advanced. According to industry officials Tuesday, the double woes of a ban on signing up new customers imposed by the Korea Communications Commission (KCC) on SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus for giving illegal subsidies and a stalling subscription rate are forcing the firms to launch LTE-Advanced quicker than expected.

The upgraded version boasts a download speed of up to 150 megabytes per second, double that of the current LTE’s speed of 75.

Though the carriers have touted LTE as being a fourth-generation (4G) service it does not meet the International Telecommunication Union’s 4G standard of 100 megabytes per second. Considering that the current LTE averages are between 30 to 70 megabytes per second, LTE-Advanced, should be truly, 4G.

For full article, see Korea Times.

Science ministry to take on larger role

A new super-ministry on science and information technology is expected to grow larger with two vice ministers and by taking over almost all functions related to research, policy, industry and high education in the fields scattered among various government organizations.

The Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry will hand over all of its trade negotiation roles to the Ministry of Knowledge Economy, to be renamed Industry, Trade and Resources Ministry, despite its protest. These and other follow-up measures to President-elect Park Geun-hye’s government reorganization plans were announced Tuesday.

“The plans reflect the governing philosophy and existing problems felt by President-elect Park Geun-hye through her long years of state affairs experience and National Assembly activities. We believe this government reorganization will create an effectively working government through well-distributed functions,” said Chin Young, vice chairman of the transition committee.

Park had unveiled last week the revamp plans which aim for a bigger government with 17 ministries, three lower-level ministries and 17 agencies under the banner of an efficient Cabinet to promote innovation-based growth.

For full article, see Korea Herald.

Renewable energy drive makes little progress

The nation’s drive to increase electricity generation from renewable energy sources is facing rough sailing as a number of power and utility companies failed to meet their green energy production targets in 2012. The targets were set by the government under a regulation called the renewable portfolio standard, or RPS.

RPS, which was introduced in January last year, is an annual renewable energy development quota for state-run and private power and utilities companies with more than 500 megawatts of power generation capacity.

In 2012, 13 companies, including six units of the Korea Electric Power Corp. and POSCO Power and GS Power, were subject to the RPS, which was set below 2 percent of energy production. “Most state-run power generation companies failed to meet their 2012 RPS due to a variety of reasons,” said an official from Korea Midland Power, one of KEPCO’s subsidiaries.

The Korea Energy Management Corp. said that the 13 companies are expected to have achieved only 50 to 60 percent of their annual quota.

For full article, see Korea Herald.