South Korea’s SK Materials Company announced it was joining forces with US-based Group 14 Technologies to expand into the lithium-ion battery materials business.

SK Materials, a subsidiary of energy, chemicals, telecoms and electronics conglomerate SK Group, is currently focused mainly on producing materials for semiconductors and digital displays.

SK Group also controls South Korea’s second-largest EV battery producer, SK Innovation Company, and battery materials company SK IE Technology.

SK Materials announced it had agreed to set up a joint venture with Group 14 Technologies, a supplier of lithium-silicon materials designed to enhance the energy-density of batteries.

SK Materials acquired a 10% stake in Group 14 Technologies for US$13m at the end of last year to become its third largest shareholder.

The company said it had agreed to invest KRW60bn (US$52m) for a 75% stake in the new joint venture, with Group 14 Technologies holding the remaining 25% of the shares.

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The joint venture will next year build a plant in South Korea to produce lithium-silicon materials designed to meet growing demand for high-performance batteries for electric vehicle (EVs).

Earlier this year SK Group announced it was ramping up investment in the EV battery business and had pledged to invest KRW30trn in green technology by 2025.