By Kim Yoo-chul
SK Group, which has set the industry's benchmark in environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) investments, aims to increase spending on environmentally-friendly projects by raising money through the issuance of "green bonds."
ESG is a set of standards a company adopts that socially-conscious investors use to determine both the sustainability and future financial performance of the business.
|SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won|
SK hynix, the conglomerate's cash cow and the world's second-largest memory chip manufacturer, said Thursday that it had raised $1 billion in green bonds for ESG projects.
Green bonds are limited to funding only environmentally-friendly projects and SK hynix is the first among leading semiconductor makers to issue them.
"SK hynix plans to invest in environmentally-friendly projects associated with water quality management, energy efficiency improvement, pollution prevention and environmental restoration," the affiliate said in a statement.
SK has emerged as the frontrunner in ESG activities after it struck a flurry of deals shifting toward cleaner energy resources and adhering to an expanding international commitment to reduce CO2 emissions.
A growing number of companies are choosing to pursue ESG activities. Top tech companies, including TSMC and Apple, have already participated in "RE100," an ambitious initiative bringing together the world's influential businesses committed to 100 percent renewable electricity, and have issued green bonds to finance those projects.
Today, SK Group's semiconductor affiliate and mobile communications service unit, SK Telecom, are key players in the conglomerate's stable of businesses. But the conglomerate, which started off in the 1950s as a textile manufacturer and branched out into oil refining in the 1980s, still generates about 20 percent of its total revenue from petrochemicals. As a result, industry watchers say the conglomerate is feeling the need to make a noticeable footprint in "decarbonization" efforts.
"Over 230 global institutions raised $5.4 billion in green bond issuances. As such SK hynix decided to increase the total value of the issuance from $500 million to $1 billion," the Korean chipmaker said.
Chang Hyuk-joon, head of finance at SK hynix, said the successful issuance of the green bonds was the result of global investors recognizing SK hynix's eco-friendly policies, including the company's participation in RE100.
He added that SK hynix will continue to contribute to creating social as well as economic value by "securing sustainable sources for growth."