South Korean battery component manufacturer ILJIN to set up factory in Catalonia

Company to invest €600m to open first European plant in western Catalan town, with 500 jobs expected to be created

ILJIN's headquarters in Seoul (by ILJIN)
ILJIN's headquarters in Seoul (by ILJIN) / ACN

ACN | Barcelona

May 16, 2022 08:14 AM

South Korean battery component manufacturer ILJIN will set up its first European factory in Catalonia, as announced by the Catalan business minister, Roger Torrent, during an official trip to Seoul on Monday.

The company will invest €600 million to open a plant in Mont-roig del Camp, western Catalonia, which is expected to create 500 direct jobs.

ILJIN Materials is "one of the only companies worldwide" that manufactures thin copper foil called Elecfoil used in rechargeable lithium batteries for almost all cellular IT products, including mobile phones and televisions, but also in electric vehicles, as Torrent explained from South Korea after meeting ILJIN representatives. It is a key component for cathode collectors in such batteries.

For the business ministry, "this is a strategic investment with a high added value for Catalonia." Torrent's office hopes this will attract other foreign investment projects to the country.

Indeed, he says his department wants to "reindustrialize" Catalonia with green companies.

New plant in operation in 2024

The new 30,000 sqm plant in Mont-roig, near Tarragona, will be in operation in 2024 and will have a factory, storage areas, and a technical building.

The town's mayor, Fran Morancho, also traveled to Seoul, where he said that the investment will help "diversify" the local economy, currently focused mainly on tourism and the service sector. 

The Barcelona and Seoul offices of the Catalonia Trade & Investment government agency (known as ACCIÓ locally) have supported ILJIN's plans for a year and have worked to secure the investment.

According to the Catalan business ministry, the South Korean company's move is the largest industrial greenfield investment in 20 years, that is, a type of direct foreign investment in which a company sets up a subsidiary in one country from scratch.

Locals and businesses welcome news

The news was welcomed by locals and businesses in Mont-roig del Camp. "I think it's great", one resident told the Catalan News Agency (ACN) on Monday. "We needed this. Now at least there will be more life in Mont-roig since there are a lot of young people who have to leave for work. I’m very happy. At least something is being done."

Anna Jimenez, another resident, agreed it was "really good news, because there is not much work in the town," while for Fernando Mesa, the nationality of the company was irrelevant. "I am in favor of people making a living, whether they are Korean or from La Mancha; this will bring life to the town."

Dolors Rovira, who works at a grocery store in the town, thinks it would be good for business. "If there really are 500 jobs, for people from the town or families coming from elsewhere, it will be good for trade." she said.

On the other hand, Jordi Olesti, from a hardware store, was skeptical. "I can't believe it yet, there's a lot of propaganda, building the industrial estate has yet to start," but, he admitted, "obviously such an investment would be great and would help a town like Mont-roig."

€900m revenue for ILJIN in 2021

ILJIN, headquartered in Seoul, South Korea, was founded in 1968 and, according to rating agency Standard and Poors, it made approximately €900m in revenue and €1.2bn in assets in 2021.

The company aims to earn $1bn in revenue by 2025, that is, €960m.

Also according to S&P, along with Elecfoil, the company makes high voltage electric cables, Cu wire and aluminum alloys, extra-high voltage transformers and blockers, and electrical devices for power distribution.

ILJIN also manufactures touchscreen panels for smartphones, precisive steel tubes for automobiles, hydraulic cylinder tubes for heavy machinery, various shapes for L/M systems, and extra precisive stainless tubes for semi-conductors.

It makes composite fuel tanks, LED lighting and display products, architectural designs, and skyscrapers, as well as acoustic, diagnostic, research, and therapeutic ultrasound-based medical systems.