EcoPro seeks big leap as global battery materials maker

South Korean battery materials manufacturer EcoPro, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, has laid out a goal to post 10 trillion won ($7.41 billion) in sales next year.

EcoPro CEO Song Ho-jun and top executives of the firm's subsidiaries, including EcoPro BM, participated in a celebratory event held at the company’s headquarters in Ochang, North Chungcheong Province, on Friday.

Preparing for the next 25 years, EcoPro said it plans to develop game changer materials, diversify its customer portfolio, advance recycling technology and upgrade its business system for global expansion.

“The key driver of growth that made us where we are now is our first mover initiative in launching the best quality product in the market,” the CEO said in a statement.

“We must enhance our competitive edge in technologies in development, quality control and commercial production.”

Founded in 1998 as a one-man company, EcoPro has leapfrogged into a global battery materials maker with 9 trillion won in revenue and 3,500 workers on payroll, the company said.

In the early 2000s, when the rechargeable battery market was in a nascent stage, the company acquired a cathode material business from Cheil Industries, a former manufacturing unit of Samsung Group.

Due to a fierce price war within the industry, the company had to shut down the precursor cathode materials business in 2006 after taking out a 30 billion won bank loan.

EcoPro then changed its key business to high-nickel cathode materials and secured Sony and Samsung SDI as clients in 2013 and 2014, respectively. In 2016, it split off EcoPro BM, its cathode materials manufacturing unit, which went public on the nation’s tech-heavy Kosdaq after three years.

In the following years, it made aggressive investments worth 2 trillion won to set up a closed-loop ecosystem that can produce and recycle cathode and precursor materials and lithium in Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province.

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