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Fate of Samsung’s future strategy office nears end

Samsung Group’s future strategy office, which its de facto chief Lee Jae-yong vowed to abolish during a parliamentary hearing Tuesday, has long been the tech giant’s key organ in charge of acquisitions of companies and the entry of new businesses.

“I will remove Samsung’s Future Strategy Office, which is subject to negative public sentiment,” Lee said.

The office, dubbed the control tower of Samsung Group, was formed under the direction of group founder Lee Byung-chull in 1959. It started as a secretariat under then Samsung Group Chairman Lee, grandfather of Lee Jae-yong, but was disbanded in 2008 in the face of the prosecution’s probe into a slush fund.

The office was revived in 2010 by Lee Jae-yong’s father, now bedridden Chairman Lee Kun-hee, after he returned to management two years after the probe with a list of Samsung’s new visions in hand.

Samsung Group has reportedly been downsizing the office in accordance with the junior Lee’s management direction focusing on pragmatism. 

But it continued to serve as the top decision-making body orchestrating future strategies of affiliates under the Samsung empire ranging from electronics and finance to biopharmaceuticals. 

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)


Not only making strategic decisions, the office also controls Samsung affiliates’ personnel management, finance and relationship building with the public offices and the media.

The office has faced public criticism over its involvement in the nation’s largest influence-peddling scandal. 

At the National Assembly hearing session, lawmakers blasted the office for masterminding a controversial merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries last year, allegedly pressuring the National Pension Service to approve the deal. It holds no legal responsibility or right to do so, lawmakers said.

The office has been raided by the prosecution last month for alleged irregularities over the merger. It is currently led by Choi Ji-sung, the former Samsung Electronics CEO who raised the South Korean tech giant’s profile in the global market.

Lee Jae-yong on Tuesday didn’t say when the future strategy office would be disbanded.

By Cho Chung-un (christory@heraldcorp.com)

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