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Pres.-elect Park holds talks with smaller biz CEOs first

Pres.-elect Park holds talks with smaller biz CEOs first

Posted December. 26, 2012 23:42,   


Sources at large companies say President-elect Park Geun-hye`s meeting with the heads of large companies Wednesday was earlier than they expected.

Since she had made pledges on "economic democratization" in her presidential campaign, she was expected to keep her distance from large corporations. But she visited the Federation of Korean Industries just a week after winning the election.

Park met corporate leaders two days earlier than "business-friendly" incumbent President Lee Myung-bak did after being elected president, but held a meeting with the heads of smaller companies and merchants in advance. She also made harsh comments while speaking to the CEOs of large companies. The president-elect apparently took a differentiated approach in her relationship with large companies both in format and content.

When Lee visited the federation on Dec. 28, 2007 as president-elect, he expressed deep affection toward entrepreneurs and became the first president-elect to visit the organization`s headquarters. There, he criticized anti-corporate sentiment that had peaked under the previous administration, saying, "I will strive to make a place where people creating jobs are respected." He also set up a hotline for corporate leaders to encourage them to directly call him in case of difficulty. Lee held a meeting with the heads of smaller companies a week after on Jan. 4, 2007.

His predecessor Roh Moo-hyun never visited the federation as president-elect or president. As president-elect, he had consistently stressed reform of large companies. Roh met people from the federation on Jan. 31, 2002, when he invited the heads of five economic organizations to his presidential transition committee. On corporate reform measures proposed by the committee, he reassured the attendees by ruling out "shocking" reforms.

In a Feb. 14 event hosted by the federation two weeks afterward, Roh reiterated his plan to reform large companies, saying, "The unhealthy practices of size bulking and unfair use of their dominance by large companies have yet to subside."

According to sources at large companies, Park is also firm in her resolve to punish large companies that break the law, but she will still take a different stance from Roh, who practically had a gun pointed at large companies. Park has urged large companies to refrain from conducting layoffs and taking business away from smaller competitors, but has said nothing on changing the governance structure of large companies, such as a ban on cross-shareholdings and the revival of the equity investment ceiling.

A source at a large company said, "Park`s visit signals that she recognizes the role of large companies as a partner for boosting the lives of low-income people," adding, "Economic democratization is an inevitable trend, but we hope that Park implements a flexible policy toward large companies by refraining from excess regulation that hinders their investments."