|Korea Electric Power Corp. President Cho Hwan-ik / Courtesy of KEPCO|
By Jhoo Dong-chan
Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) President Cho Hwan-ik will step down today, three months before his official term ends. The decision follows KEPCO's announcement of a possible mega-deal to build Europe's largest nuclear power plant in the United Kingdom.
Cho said Thursday he was pleased to announce that the company was named as a preferred bidder for Toshiba's U.K. nuclear project, and it is the time for him to resign in favor of the company's younger executives.
"It is my pleasure that KEPCO has confirmed its preferred bidder status for the mega-project before my resignation. The company has experienced a series of difficulties, including the power shortage crisis in 2013 and public outcry against its progressive electricity rate last year, but it managed to overcome them thanks to our workers' relentless efforts."
Cho, who has served in various posts, including vice industrial minister, was nominated as KEPCO CEO in December 2012 after his predecessor Kim Joong-kyum offered his resignation following what observers called a confrontation with the government over electricity rates a month earlier. He is the company's longest-serving CEO.
Cho was born in 1950 and joined the government in 1973 after graduating from Seoul National University with a degree in political science. He has held various positions in relation to industry and was president of the Korea Trade Insurance Corporation in 2007 and president of the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency in 2008.
Under Cho's leadership, KEPCO first joined the race for the Moorside Nuclear Plant project in the U.K. in 2013, but faced a fierce competition with state-run China General Nuclear (CGN) in September.
The Korean energy giant, however, successfully won out over the Chinese bidder in a battle to clinch the U.K.'s 21 trillion won ($19.2 billion) nuclear power project in northwestern England.
KEPCO said Wednesday it was named as the preferred bidder to buy the Nugeneration (NuGen) consortium from Toshiba, the only company still backing the project.
Toshiba put NuGen up for sale as part of its wider restructuring in the wake of a financial crisis triggered by losses in its U.S. nuclear business.
KEPCO is also in the final stages of constructing four nuclear reactors in the United Arab Emirates and is looking for similar deals in the global market.