[단독]“I keep the promise of retirement at the age of 65 like other executives… Remote treatment start-up starts from scratch”

Celltrion Chairman Seo Jeong-jin retired

Celltrion Chairman Seo Jeong-jin (63, photo) resigned from the post of chairman on December 31 last year. He kept his retirement promise, ‘I will leave at the retirement age of 65 (Korean age) like other executives.’ The market cap of the three listed affiliates of Celltrion, founded by Chairman Seo with 50 million won, is close to 82 trillion won.

According to Celltrion on that day, Chairman Seo said to the surrounding executives and employees, “It was an honor to be together. I will not forget. Please don’t forget.” At the regular general shareholders’ meeting in March, Chairman Seo’s successor is decided. At this time, Chairman Suh is scheduled to resign as chairman of the board of directors and be elected as the honorary chairman of unpaid.

Prior to retirement, Chairman Seo, who recently met this reporter, said, “I plan to start an artificial intelligence (AI) telemedicine startup in the new year.” Chairman Seo’s plan is to allow elderly people who are difficult to find a hospital to receive remote medical treatment with only a small amount of blood collected at home. He said, “As soon as the shareholders’ meeting in March is over, we will rent an office with a size of 30 pyeong and think about’what to start with.’

Chairman Seo had the same concerns over 20 years ago. In 1998, he became unemployed as an advisor to Daewoo Motors due to the financial crisis. Chairman Seo said, “We discussed’what to do in the future’ with five employees from Daewoo Motors all day long,” and said, “After setting it as a bio business, the primary goal was’to not fail.’” So, Chairman Seo, who founded Nexol (predecessor of Celltrion) in 2000, signed a technical alliance contract with Baxgen, the US, which has AIDS vaccine manufacturing technology, and started the bio business in earnest. But the results weren’t good. Chairman Seo said, “The results of phase 3 clinical trials released in 2004 were ambiguous. “But I thought that it gave me an opportunity to switch to consignment production (CMO) because of that. At that time, if the clinical results were good and the technology alliance was successful, there would be no Celltrion now.” Celltrion, which started winning orders for CMO contracts, has grown rapidly. In 2007, the first production facility in Asia was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Next was a biosimilar (a generic biopharmaceutical drug). Chairman Seo said, “I tried differentiation from the product planning stage because the competition for products that anyone can do is very competitive.” Remshima, an autoimmune disease drug developed in 2012, followed by the anticancer drugs Truxima and Herzuma, were successful in the US and European markets. Chairman Seo said, “Celltrion has grown to the 33rd and 34th place among global pharmaceutical bio companies based on operating profit in 2020.” I said. There is also a prospect that Celltrion will be able to rise to No. 1 this year, overtaking Yuhan Corporation, the No. 1 traditional Korean pharmaceutical company.

Chairman Seo was controversial over short selling and fraudulent accounting. “I thought that the only competitive edge of a company was its products. “We have spared no effort in development, facility investment, and improvement of employee treatment.” Meanwhile, regarding the advancement to politics raised by some, “I have no intention of trying. I like it, and I try to continue the business that I do well.”

Reporter Hong Seok-ho [email protected]

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