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Posco Holdings mulls relocating to Pohang

Civic groups urge Posco to relocate all employees from Seoul headquarters

By Shim Woo-hyun

Published : Feb. 21, 2023 - 16:28

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Posco Center in Gangnam-gu, Seoul (Yonhap) Posco Center in Gangnam-gu, Seoul (Yonhap)

Posco Holdings, the holding unit of South Korean steel giant Posco Group, may be relocating its headquarters to Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province, as its board of directors is set to discuss the issue at the upcoming shareholders’ meeting next month.

The conflict between Posco and the residents of Pohang, however, is expected to continue because it is uncertain if employees working in the current headquarters in Seoul will also move to the industrial city some 375 kilometers southeast of the capital.

On Monday, the board of directors of Posco Holdings held a meeting to decide on the relocation of its headquarters. Many expressed concerns, saying the relocation is not necessary. But the board decided to discuss the agenda following an agreement made between the company’s top brass and Pohang residents.

The relocation of the Posco Holdings headquarters is now up for a shareholders’ vote at the general meeting on March 17.

“The upcoming shareholders meeting has nothing to do with the relocation of employees,” a Posco official said, hinting that the issue could be discussed in the future.

There are around 200 Posco Holdings employees working at Posco Center in Gangnam, southern Seoul. They were transferred when the group established the holdings firm in March last year.

The location of the Posco Holdings headquarters was not a big issue in the beginning. However, it gained traction during the country’s local elections last year, when politicians attacked Posco Group over its decision to establish its holdings firm in Seoul instead of Pohang, home to the group's core business.

The group then negotiated with a civic group of Pohang residents to change the address of the headquarters by March 2023, while promising that the company would establish its R&D base in the region.

The issue appeared to be settled, but the civic group later additionally demanded Posco Group redeploy Posco Holdings employees to Pohang as well, along with the relocation of the headquarters. The civic group also protested the group’s decision to build an R&D branch in the Greater Seoul area, which it argued would take researchers away from Pohang.

Recently, hundreds of Pohang residents have been holding rallies in front of the Seoul headquarters on the issue.

“The civic group is overstepping its bounds,” the official said, adding that a new R&D branch in Greater Seoul will help attract more researchers to the Pohang-based R&D center.