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On 28 March 2010 the Export-Import Bank of Korea selected its first set (of 34) Hidden National Champions. Another 66 such firms are expected to be selected this year, according to the relevant press release. The selected firms will be able to tap a financing fund of 1 trillion won.
According to the press release:
"A Korean Hidden Champion:
- sells its key products in niche markets of 25 countries on average.
- invests at least 3.65% of revenue in R&D, much higher than the overall average of 2.06%, and holds 38 patents on average.
- exports on average KRW 69.2 billion or 61% of total sales.
- The selected candidates represent the machinery metal sector (18 firms), electronics & appliances (11 firms), the chemical sector (3 firms), and other sectors (2 firms). Among these companies, 7 firms are involved in new growth Industries such as green technology."
The purpose and possible scale of this initiative are conveyed by the following remarks in the press release.
'KEXIM President & CEO Dongsoo Kim stated, "We will strive to nurture leading global export companies over the next decade through this program. By creating quality jobs and contributing to the national economy through exports, Hidden Champions will serve as the key drivers of the Korean economy.'
' With plans to nurture 300 Hidden Champions with global market competitiveness and exports totaling USD 100 million each by 2019, KEXIM committed KRW 20 trillion in the Korean Hidden Champion program launched last year with an initial 12 candidates selected for the program.'
Earlier in the year, on 5 January 2010, another press release from the Export-Import Bank of Korea stated:
"In nurturing the Hidden Champions, Korea Eximbank plans to contribute to the national economy with USD 48 billion in additional exports, 490,000 new jobs, $25.6 billion in GDP, and KRW 500 billion in tax revenues."
In an update on 22 November 2010 the Korean Eximbank revealed that on 8 October 2010 another 35 companies were selected for financing under the Korea Hidden Champion Initiative. The same press release revealed that in fact 100 firms had been selected for this initiative in 2010, with 31 firms being previously selected in June 2010. The Eximbank revealed that "the candidates have already received over KRW 1.2 trillion in financing, 20% more than the KRW 1 trillion initially planned." An example of the credit given to one company revealed that funding was received for expanding facilities, for exporting, for overseas investments, and for importing. The Chairman of the Eximbank is quoted proudly boasting that even more support will be offered to the selected Hidden Champions in 2011.
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