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Samsung heir keeps tight rein on future businesses

Lee highlights auto parts, 5G and open innovation with outside partners for new businesses

Lee Jae-yong, the de facto leader of South Korea’s largest conglomerate Samsung Electronics, on Monday continued his visits to the tech giant’s emerging businesses in the fields of automotive parts and the fifth-generation network.

Samsung Vice Chairman Lee visited the headquarters of Samsung Electro-Mechanics in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, to check out the affiliate’s new businesses in auto parts and 5G modules, according to the firm.

The Samsung affiliate is a major provider of multilayer ceramic capacitators for electronics, which are the tiniest parts -- the average size of an MLCC piece is 0.4 by 0.2 millimeters -- necessary for the smooth operation of electronic devices that run on integrated circuits.

About 1,000 MLCCs are needed for a smartphone, and around 13,000 MLCCs are used for a single vehicle.

That is why Samsung Electro-Mechanics has recently shifted the focus of its MLCC business from the current electronics market to the automotive market in line with the trend that vehicles are increasingly becoming electrified.

According to the industry, the automotive MLCC market is forecast to account for 35 percent of the total MLCC market that is estimated to reach 20 trillion won ($16.9 billion) by 2024.

The company also plans to push for its 5G antenna module business, especially during the transition period from the current fourth-generation to fifth-generation network. 

Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong visited Samsung's semiconductor business head office in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, on June 1. (Samsung Electronics)
Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong visited Samsung's semiconductor business head office in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, on June 1. (Samsung Electronics)

It has developed the world’s smallest 5G antenna module reduced 25 percent in size compared to existing antenna modules for smartphones.

“Both car components and 5G are major interests of the vice chairman concerning Samsung’s future growth,” said a Samsung official.

“Believing that Samsung can’t lead the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ move alone, collaboration between the electronics units and other affiliates as well as outside partners was discussed during the meetings with the executives.”

The vice chairman had met with Samsung’s smartphone business CEO Koh Dong-jin on Friday. He was briefed on the mobile unit’s strategies for the second half of the year and plans for leading technologies and services.

During the meeting with the IT and mobile communications division, Lee touched on topics like 6G, blockchain and advanced AI services.

“No company can guarantee their future 10 years later,” Lee said at the meeting. “We have to take the challenge as if we are starting a whole new business beyond keeping the past achievements.”

On Thursday, Lee met with the top brass of the semiconductor business -- for the second time in two weeks -- in order to ensure the execution of Samsung’s investment plan worth 133 trillion won for the system-on-chip business.

Lee plans to hold similar meetings with the heads of the consumer electronics business and other companies in the coming weeks in an effort to keep in control major businesses of Samsung and new business with external partners under the goal of open innovation, said the Samsung official.

By Song Su-hyun (