April 22, 2018

Hanssem founder’s donations pay off in Pantech building takeover

PUBLISHED : May 25, 2017 - 18:03

UPDATED : May 25, 2017 - 18:17

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[THE INVESTOR] As the No. 1 in the domestic furniture industry,  Hanssem is to open a new “Sangam-dong” era after taking over the Pantech building located in Mapo-gu, Seoul.

The company made a public announcement that it will purchase the building previously owned by Ostara Korea C9, a corporate restructuring real estate investment firm, after a meeting held by its board of directors on May 12.

Hanssem DBEW design center Hanssem

The Pantech building, worth around 148.5 billion won, is a 22-floor building for business use with five extra basement floors and an area of 6,6648-square meters.

Once the takeover is complete, the 2,600 Hanssem workers that have been scattered into various offices, including the current headquarters in Seocho-gu and a design center in Jongno-gu, will be relocated to the new office.

Regarding the takeover of the Pantech building, many say that it has been successful due to the large network formed by its founder.

Founder of Hanssem, Honorary Chairman Cho Chang-geol, has befriended former vice chairman of Pantech group and now Vice Chairman of Pantech C&I, Park Byeong-yeop, who is also a member of public foundation Yeosijae that was established by Cho two years ago.

Other members of Yeosijae include former Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs Lee Hun-jai, who is the current chairman of the foundation, former chairman of JTBC and the JoongAng Ilbo Hong Seok-hyun, who was recently named as the presidential envoy to the US, former mayor of Gangwon Province Lee Kwang-jae, former justice of the Supreme Court Ahn Dae-hee, former UN ambassador Kim Hyun-chong, and Kakao Chairman Kim Beom-soo.

Yeosijae, also known as the Future Consensus Institute, refers to a “house that goes together with the era” in Korean, and was founded by benchmarking Brookings Institution. The Brookings Institution, one of the two largest think tanks in the US along with the Heritage foundation, was behind the West European assistance program, the Marshall Plan, during the World War II.

Cho has dreamt of establishing a think tank that would represent Korea ever since he founded Hanssem in the 1970’s in Eunpyeong-gu, Seoul, at the age of 31.

When Yeosijae was first established in 2015, Cho said, “Tragedies like the Japanese annexation of Korea, the division of the Korean peninsula, and the Korean War occurred due to the lack of predictions on our future and the right preparations for such events.”

“Korea in between large powers will have to work together with them and learn how to control them to prepare for the future, which are difficult tasks that strongly calls for a capable think tank,” he added.

He promised to donate 2.6 million shares that he owned of Hanssem Design Beyond East & West Research Foundation and created Yeosijae in March 2015, a research institute on national policy development. He has completed the investment of some 600,000 shares worth around 100 billion won according to market prices back then, with the remaining 2 million worth around 300 billion won is still on its way of being transferred.

Cho, who retired from Hanssem’s management in 1994, used to hold 19.95 percent shares of Hanssem’s listed shares but the volume has shrunk to 19.7 percent after the contributions made last month. He also owns unlisted shares such as Hanssem Effex (3.1 percent) and Hanssem Nexus (2.6 percent).

Meanwhile, Hanssem has been showing a rapid growth recently, recording 1.9 trillion won and 159.5 billion won in sales and business profits, respectively, in 2016. It is getting closer to being part of the 2 trillion won club with higher achievements expected to be made this year. Its sales and business profits for the first quarter also recorded 494 billion won and 40.7 billion won, showing 18.4 percent and 38.7 percent increases respectively when compared to those of the same period the previous year.

By Min Sang-seek, Lee Se-jin and Yim Ji-min/The Superrich Team  (

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