SK Group (Korean: SK그룹, 에스케이그룹) is the fourth largest conglomerate (Chaebol) in South Korea. The SK Group is composed of 92 subsidiary and affiliate companies that share the SK brand and culture. It changed its name from Sunkyung Group (Korean: 선경그룹) to SK in 1997. SK Holdings ranked 72nd in the 2009 Fortune Global 500. SK Group has more than 30,000 employees who work from 113 offices worldwide. Its services include local telephone, high-speed Internet, and wireless broadband service WiBro.
As with many other Chaebols SK Group’s chairmanship was ‘inherited’ from father to son: from its founder the late Chey John-hyun to its present chairman Chey Tae-won (eldest son). Che Tae-won is married to the daughter of the former South Korean President Roh Tae-woo.
SK Group began when the current founders acquired Sunkyung Textiles in 1953. In 1958, the company manufactured Korea’s first polyester fiber on company grounds. It established Sunkyung Fibers Ltd. in July 1969, and started to produce original yarn. In 1973, SK then established Sunkyong Oil, beginning a vertical integration strategy to manage production, “From Petroleum to Fibers”. That same year, the company acquired the Walkerhill Hotel.
In 1976, Sunkyung Corporation received an international trading company license from the Korean government. In December 1980 SK purchased privately-run Korea National Oil, making it Korea’s fifth largest conglomerate. In January 1988, crude oil was imported for processing to Korea from Yemen’s Marib oil field.
In June 1994, SK entered Korea’s telecommunications business by becoming Korea Mobile Telecommunication Service’s largest shareholder. In January 1996, SK Telecom launched Korea’s first commercial CDMA cellular phone service in Incheon and Bucheon.
In 2002, SK Telecom successfully launched the world’s first commercial CDMA 1X EV-DO technology, allowing it to offer 3G telecommunications service. In 2004, SK Telecom enabled satellite DMB service by deploying the world’s first DMB satellite. Moreover, in 2006, SK began revitalizing the 3.5-generation mobile phone market and in the following year, completed the construction of the national HSDPA network. In May 2006, SK Telecom started the world’s first commercial 3.5-generation HSDPA service, featuring high-quality video telephony and data transmission, and global roaming access.
In 1998, Management re-branded Sunkyong to SK. In 1999, SK Chemicals developed third-generation (non cross resistant) platinum-complex anti-cancer agent. Also, by focusing its research and development efforts on life sciences, SK Corporation developed YKP1358, a new drug candidate for schizophrenia, in 2003.
In 2005, SK Networks opened China’s first two wholly foreign-owned, gas stations in Shenyang. Then, after exploring Brazilian mining area BM-C-8, SK Corporation developed an oil field where it confirmed the existence of more than 50 million barrels of oil deposits.
SK Gas began developing resources overseas when it participated in two mining areas to the west of Russia’s Kamchatka peninsula in March 2006. In early 2006, SK Networks also developed Ecol-Green, a biodegradable plastic material. Incheon Oil officially started operations using the SK name in March 2006. SK Energy is currently engaged in 27 oil fields in 15 countries worldwide
SKC imported propylene oxide (PO, a chemical used in manufacturing polyurethane) production technology from Germany in May 2006. It is scheduled to produce 100,000 tons of PO from 2008.
At the end of 2005, SK Corp. developed a lithium ion battery separator (LiBS) for the first time in Korea, and started selling the product in 2006. In July 2007, SK Group adopted a holding company structure. Under the re-organization, SK’s main entity, SK Corporation, was split into an investment company, now SK Holdings and an operating company, now SK Energy. The subsidiary companies that now operate under the central SK Holdings umbrella include: SK Energy, SK Telecom, SK Networks, SKC, SK E&S, SK Shipping and K Power