LG Chem is mulling entering the polysilicon market which it has so far avoided over worries of a supply glut of the raw material for solar cells.
In an event to announce its first-quarter business results on Tuesday, LG Chem vice president Kim Bahn-suk said that the firm is considering making inroads into the polysilicon market and will begin building a plant if the board of directors gives the green light in the first half of the year. The plant will reportedly have a production capacity of 5,000-10,000 tons.
The company's shift comes amid improving prospects for the photovoltaic industry, which Kim expects to pick up within the next three or four years.
Korea's OCI is one of the world's three major suppliers of polysilicon, along with Germany's Wacker Chemie and Hemlock Semiconductor Group of the U.S. Samsung, Hyundai Heavy Industries, Hanwha and Woongjin are operating or building plants to produce the material.
Meanwhile, LG Chem announced record results for the first quarter. It posted all-time highs of W835.3 billion in operating profit, W5.49 trillion in sales and W656.6 billion in net profit (US$1=W1,092).
Its operating profit mostly came from the petrochemicals business, which recorded 50.1 percent on-year growth to W735.6 billion on the back of increased product prices.
The IT and electronics materials business, which includes optical films and secondary batteries, saw a 3.5 percent rise in sales to W1.19 trillion compared to the same period last year. But the unit's operating profit fell 35.6 percent on-year to W112.7 billion.