Koo Bon-moo, the chairman of South Korea’s fourth largest conglomerate that was the first to adopt a transparent shareholding structure among its units, has died. He was 73.
Koo died Sunday at 9:52 a.m. Seoul time as he did not seek extension of life after falling ill a year ago, according to LG Group in an emailed statement.
The patriarch will be succeeded by his adopted son, Koo Kwang-mo, 40, who was nominated to the board of LG Corp. on Thursday pending the approval of shareholders on June 29. Chairman Koo underwent multiple brain surgeries in recent years, Yonhap News Agency reported earlier.
He was the third generation of his family to run the conglomerate, known locally as the chaebol or “wealth clique,” after taking over the helm from his father in 1995. Koo adopted the holding company structure in 2003 and the group was later divided into four smaller parts, with Koo keeping the electronics, chemical and telecommunications businesses under his helm.
Under Koo’s leadership, LG Group moved into businesses such as car batteries and energy in search for new revenue. LG Chem Ltd. has grown into a leading car-battery maker, providing its products to such automakers as Ford Motor Co. and Renault SA. In 2015, LG Electronics Inc. struck a deal to co-develop General Motors Co.’s Bolt electric vehicle.
During the 23 years Koo led the group, sales at LG Group increased more than five times to 160 trillion won in 2017 from 30 trillion won in late 1994, even after the tech giant’s spin-offs of affiliates to GS and LS groups in early 2000s. The number of employees doubled to 210,000 in the same period.