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Samsung silently marks anniversary

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)

Samsung Electronics on Sunday marked the 51st anniversary of its foundation in silence, in the first memorial day under scion Lee Jae-yong just one week after Chairman Lee Kun-hee’s death.

There was no official remark from Samsung regarding the anniversary, but the conglomerate was set to hold a ceremony Monday.

Whether Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong would release a message was not confirmed.

Industry watchers are paying attention to what a new Samsung with heir Lee officially at the helm will look like.

Among other issues, when the vice chairman will be formally promoted to chairman is drawing the biggest attention in the business community.

The late Chairman Lee Kun-hee took the crown 13 days after Honorary Chairman Lee Byung-chull died in 1987.

But the timing of Lee’s promotion seems quite complex to gauge, considering the myriad legal risks surrounding the heir.

For the time being, Lee is expected to focus on his retrial in the corruption scandal involving former President Park Geun-hye, which resumed Oct. 26, as well as another trial on allegations of the illegal leadership inheritance of Samsung.

“It could be burdensome for Lee to be promoted to chairman in the midst of legal issues, including especially the leadership inheritance scheme,” said an industry insider. “It would seem right to the public that he becomes the chairman after the suspicions are removed.”

However, Lee is expected to continue working as the de facto leader of the conglomerate by making on-site visits to Samsung workplaces in Korea and by holding meetings with global customers, as he has been doing already over the past few years.

After a trip to Vietnam last month, Lee told reporters he would need to visit Japan soon to meet major customers there.

The annual organizational and personnel reshuffling, slated for early December, will likely provide a glimpse of the new Samsung under Lee Jae-yong.

Forecasts are dominant that Lee will seek some distinctive changes while maintaining the stability of the organization across Samsung affiliates.

The investment banking industry expects Samsung to resume large-scale investments and mergers and acquisitions under Lee.

Samsung has announced system-on-chips, artificial intelligence, automotive parts and 5G and 6G as its new growth engines.

“Lee aggressively led big deals like the sale of Samsung’s petrochemical and aviation business to Hanwha in 2014, and the Harman acquisition in 2016,” said a financial source. “The financial industry has expectations that Samsung would resume major M&As under Lee.”

By Song Su-hyun (song@heraldcorp.com)
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