Shown above is the head office of Hanwha Group in Seoul. The South Koran conglomerate vies to expand its footprint in Australia across the board. Photo courtesy of Hanwha Group

Korean conglomerate seeks biz opportunities Down Under

Hanwha Group said on Feb. 25 that the South Korean conglomerate would proactively seek investment and business opportunities in Australia based on the growing defense partnership between the two countries.

The move comes on the heels of a defense contract signed between Hanwha Defense Australia, an affiliate of Hanwha Defense and Hanwha Group, and the Commonwealth.

Under the agreement, Hanwha will produce 30 AS9 Huntsman Self-Propelled Howitzers and 15 AS10 Armored Ammunition Resupply Vehicles in Geelong, Victoria, under the project LAND 8116 phase 1.

Valued at $785 million, the AS9 deal marked the first time Australia has acquired major defense equipment from an Asian nation.

Hence, observers point out that the contract has the potential to help evolve the Seoul-Canberra relationship to a more comprehensive strategic partnership.

Against that backdrop, Hanwha Group is in discussions to set up a bilateral business channel with the Victorian government to address potential business cooperation and investment opportunities.

Tentatively named “Hanwha Forum,” the initiative is expected to begin during the first half of this year.

Hanwha said that a number of its subsidiaries are keen to participate in the forum to promote their respective business portfolios and explore mutually beneficial business opportunities.

For the engineering and construction sector, Hanwha is expected to share its experience and know-how of complex development projects and urban development, while Hanwha’s space and satellite business arms can tap opportunities to collaborate on Urban Air Mobility (UAM), as well as satellite internet services.

In the defense sector, Hanwha Defense shows interest in cooperating with the Victorian government for the UK Mobile Fires Platform project, aimed at acquiring advanced self-propelled howitzers, by utilizing the armored vehicles center of excellence to be constructed in Geelong.

In addition, ammunition plants and guided weapons would be topics for future defense cooperation, while Hanwha’s CCTV camera technology is expected to gain strong attention from the Australian industry.

Hanwha Group, the seventh-largest business enterprise in South Korea and a Fortune Global 500 company, also has expertise in finance, chemicals, and advanced materials to offer to Australian industrial partners.

“Hanwha and Australia have already forged a relationship based on mutual trust and friendship through defense business projects, and I think both parties have much to gain from further cooperation in other business sectors,” Hanwha Defense Australia Managing Director Richard Cho said.

“The opportunities are significant for the Australian economy with the creation of hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of dollars in economic activity possible.”