Friday, February 15, 2013

Global Business Expert Sees Continued Korea-facing Opportunities

Seoul, South Korea, February 16, 2013

Don Southerton, CEO and President of Bridging Culture Worldwide, a global Korea facing consultancy sees South Korea continuing to offer new opportunities. Southerton notes that although some sectors of the Korean market like QSR (quick service restaurants) appear saturated there is still demand in the service sector and for proven, premium brands. Furthermore, as stated in a recent a Wall Street Journal article “Korea is Primed for M&A’ the major Korean Groups with their strong cash reserves are well positioned for M&A outside South Korea.

Southerton points out that other than a few exceptions, for example, E.Land recently acquired K-Swiss, and in 2011 Fila Korea purchased golf giant Acushnet (Titleist),
the shift to M&A is a change from the past--the business model of the major Groups like Samsung and Hyundai being 'growth from within' and creating their own divisions vs. acquisition.

With this trend to M&A, Southerton sees both Korean Groups and the new acquisition requiring specialized support to ensure a smooth transition and continued growth. Similar to forming an overseas subsidiary, acquiring a foreign firm requires understanding local customs and business culture. That said, with a M&A, a high level of employee sensitivity and internal communication is essential to re-assure concerns that will surface within the local teams and management. Adding to the challenge, both local and dispatched Korean expat teams will need support, cross-cultural coaching and training. In particular, there is need for a forward-thinking strategy to be in place from Day 1 that will address concerns as they surface and frame the transition as positive.

About Don Southerton
Don Southerton has held a life-long interest in Korea and the rich culture of the country. He has authored numerous publications with topics centering on the Korean auto industry, new urbanism, entrepreneurialism, and early U.S.-Korean business ventures.  Southerton is often called upon by the media (the BBC World Service, Bloomberg TV, Korea Times, Yonhap, Wall Street Journal, Forbes) to comment on modern Korean business culture and its impact on global organizations. His firm Bridging Culture Worldwide provides strategy and consulting to Korea-based global business.


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