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GS Group stakes its future on mobility South Korea's conglomerate wants to transform its gas stations into mobility hubs

Translated by Ryu Ho-joung 공개 2019-11-28 08:00:00

이 기사는 2019년 11월 28일 08:00 더벨 유료페이지에 표출된 기사입니다.

South Korea's GS Group stakes the future of the conglomerate on mobility.

GS Group's great interest in mobility is not just due to changes in a trend in modern transportation. It is also related to the conglomerate's core assets - such as gas stations, convenience stores and parking lots - each of which is connected with the word mobility.

"GS Group's business portfolio is characterized by an 'offline network,' which is woven throughout people's everyday life. It has more than 2,700 gas stations (GS Caltex) and over 13,000 convenience stores (GS Retail), as well as parking infrastructure (GS Park 24) and an apartment brand Xi (GS Engineering & Construction). The group is more interested in looking for business opportunities in unconventional areas based on its existing assets, rather than going into a whole new business," a source with knowledge of the conglomerate's thinking said. This could mean that the conglomerate would choose to enter a new market by leveraging what it has, over jumping into, let's say, an electric vehicle battery business.

GS Caltex, the country's second largest oil refiner and the biggest affiliate within GS Group, is currently leading efforts to create new mobility business opportunities. "GS Home Shopping and GS Retail also have been active in finding new growth engines, with a series of investments in startups. But, with respect to the theme of mobility, GS Caltex is at the forefront, which is considered as a flagship unit of the conglomerate, operating a number of gas stations nationwide," said the source.

GS Caltex seeks to expand services provided by traditional gas stations. "Conventional gas stations, where people fill up gas and maintain or wash their cars at present, could be transformed into space where various services for mobility vehicles are provided in the future," said the source.

In recent years, GS Caltex bought partial stakes in several domestic mobility startups - including auto repair app Cardoc, in-car payment startup Owin and car-sharing app Green Car - a move that is consistent with the conglomerate's ambition in mobility business. The oil refiner has also acquired a stake in Soft Berry, a local solution provider focused on electric vehicle charging stations, in September, and singed a partnership with U.S. micro-mobility startup Lime earlier this month.

In a statement announcing the partnership with Lime, GS Caltex said that it would continue to put efforts to make gas stations mobility hubs. "People can move to our gas station to charge their e-scooter, and then transfer to a shared car parked at the gas station to get to their destination," the oil refiner explained. Such an idea reflects what is in the mind of GS Group about the future of the conglomerate.

"[GS Group] is also exploring the possibility of leveraging from other core assets, apart from gas stations, to create new business opportunities. For example, [they] are considering integrating Green Car's car-sharing services into its apartment brand Xi. If this comes true, residents in the Xi apartments would be able to use shared cars whenever they want," said the source.

It is also notable that the conglomerate's way of investing has changed. GS Caltex, which used to focus on traditional industries ranging from oil refinery to petrochemicals, usually acquired businesses to run them. However, recently, the company tends to make an investment by purchasing a partial stake.

"It appears that [GS Group] is also thinking of running some of the businesses in which they bought a stake in the future. But, in a fast-changing environment, GS Group seems to weigh pros and cons," the source said.

(By reporter Park Ki-soo)
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