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SK Square unveils over $1.6B gamble on chips, blockchain

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SK Square CEO and vice-chairman Park Jung-ho delivers a speech at a general shareholder conference held in Seoul on Monday. SK SQUARE

SK Square unveils over $1.6B gamble on chips, blockchain

SK Square, an investment arm of South Korea’s third-largest conglomerate, on March 28 said it plans to spend at least two trillion won ($1.6 billion) over the next three years in the field of semiconductor chips and blockchain technology.

It is the first time SK Square unveiled its investment roadmap since November, when it spun off from telecommunication affiliate SK Telecom.

Under the plan, announced during its shareholder meeting held on March 28, SK Square will target chip companies in the US and in Japan across the global semiconductor value chain.

Prior to the carve-out, SK Square has already been dedicated to investing in semiconductor industry. It holds about a 20 per cent stake in memory chip maker SK hynix.

Under SK’s influence, SK hynix took part in Bain Capital-led deal to buy Toshiba’s memory chip operation in 2018, and clinched a $7 billion deal to acquire Intel’s solid-state drive business assets and NAND flash operations in December.

SK Square’s fresh investment will not be limited to chips, as it was seeking more aggressive investment in “Next Platform” including blockchain and digital assets.

On the sidelines, SK Square unveiled a plan to launch a white paper explaining the element and property of its new digital coins in the first half of and issue new cryptocurrency before the third quarter. The new digital asset will be building blocks of a new blockchain-based economic system across SK Telecom’s metaverse platform and other SK Square affiliates’ internet service.

SK Square added it is open to collaborating with investors at home and abroad for co-investment in chips, blockchain, among others.

“This will mark the first year when SK Square creates new shareholder value by investing in chips and blockchain, the fields that we are familiar with and we see a high growth potential,” Park Jung-ho, CEO and vice-chairman of SK Square, said in a statement.

Since a spinoff, SK Square has invested a total of 130.3 billion won to pursue strategic collaboration, in digital asset exchange Korbit, Kakao-backed virtual human maker Onmind and agricultural technology firm Green Labs.

Other portfolio firms include e-commerce platform 11st, app store operator One Store, security device maker SK Shieldus, advertising company Incross and mobility service firm T Map Mobility, as well as SK hynix.

Of them, SK Shieldus and One Store aims to go public in the first half of this year. Proceeds from share sales of SK Square’s portfolio firms will be used to buy back SK Square shares and cancel them, or implement an extraordinary dividend payout, Park said.

THE KOREA HERALD/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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