POSCO keeps outgoing chairman out of sight

Bomi Yoon

POSCO Group Chairman Choi Jeong-woo, fourth from left, listens to Nicolas Posse, center, chief of the Argentine Cabinet of ministers, during a meeting between the Korean company's executives and senior government officials of the Javier Milei administration at Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires, Friday. Courtesy of Argentine government

POSCO Group Chairman Choi Jeong-woo, fourth from left, listens to Nicolas Posse, center, chief of the Argentine Cabinet of ministers, during a meeting between the Korean company’s executives and senior government officials of the Javier Milei administration at Casa Rosada in Buenos Aires, Friday. Courtesy of Argentine government

Argentine government releases photos of Choi’s meeting with Cabinet chief

By Park Jae-hyuk

POSCO Group appears to have stopped informing the media about outgoing Chairman Choi Jeong-woo’s activities, after the government asked him to step down and launched an investigation into him and the nonexecutive directors of the steelmaker’s holding firm over extravagant overseas trips.

The nation’s fifth-largest business group said Tuesday that it will not issue a press release on the chairman’s meeting last Friday with Nicolas Posse, chief of the Argentine Cabinet of ministers, at the presidential office building in Buenos Aires.

Their meeting was made public after the Argentine government issued a press release and photos of the event, where the Korean company reaffirmed its intention to continue investing in the Latin American country. This was also the first time for POSCO representatives to meet senior government officials of the newly launched Javier Milei administration.

“During the meeting, our government officials presented Argentina’s economic and fiscal reform plans,” the Argentine government said in a press release. “The Asian firm’s executives talked about the progress of their projects in this country, particularly for the lithium production.”

In March 2022, when Choi met then-Argentine President Alberto Fernandez in Buenos Aires to discuss cooperation in the rechargeable battery materials sector, POSCO aggressively promoted their meeting through a press release and photos.

However, the company has kept silent this time about the chairman, who was spotted in the same city.

Earlier this year, POSCO Group only sent out the chairman’s New Year’s message to the press, without releasing a photo of him at the company’s New Year’s ceremony, which has always been made public every year until 2023.

The Korea Iron & Steel Association, where Choi serves as the chairman, also canceled its New Year’s ceremony. The association recently published his New Year’s message in its monthly magazine.

Choi, who was appointed as the POSCO Group chairman under the presidency of Moon Jae-in, will resign after the general meeting of shareholders in March. Although POSCO was privatized in 2000, the government has forced his predecessors to step down after a change in political power by exploiting the voting rights of the National Pension Service, the largest shareholder of POSCO Holdings.

As a result, the group’s CEO recommendation committee has been seeking Choi’s successor from among the company’s internal and external candidates.

However, police have probed the committee members over allegations of damage caused to POSCO due to employees using company money to pay for luxurious overseas trips, under the pretext of holding board meetings in countries where POSCO affiliates are operating.

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