The Korea Herald


Eyes on Samsung heir’s investment decision from jail

By Song Su-hyun

Published : Feb. 16, 2021 - 16:04

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(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

It has been four weeks since Samsung Group’s de-facto chief Lee Jae-yong has been jailed for bribery, and all eyes are on what large-scale investment plans are to come from the imprisoned Samsung Electronics vice chairman as visitation restrictions are set to be lifted.

According to industry sources on Tuesday, the Samsung scion has been moved to a regular cell at Seoul Detention Center on Sunday, after a four-week quarantine to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the facility.

In the past month, Lee was only allowed visits from his lawyers in a restricted room, where they are separated by a glass divider and are required to communicate via intercom.

As the social distancing rule has been eased to Level 2, Lee can now meet with his lawyers in a regular meeting room.

Visits by ordinary civilians, including Lee’s family members and Samsung executives, will be allowed starting Wednesday.

Samsung’s top brass officials are expected to visit Lee to brief the heir on major investment plans, according to industry watchers.

Lee needs to approve a $17 billion investment in Samsung’s semiconductor plant in Austin, Texas, among other items on the agenda.

Multiple reports said Samsung is in talks with US authorities on incentives.

Samsung is expected to ramp up capacity of its foundry production in the Austin facility by establishing additional lines with cutting-edge process technologies that are advanced from the current 14-nanometer process node.

Samsung is accelerating its foundry expansion as clients like Intel is increasing production in outside chip factories.

In Korea, Lee needs to finalize plans on construction of a third memory chip plant in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province.

Samsung has been preparing for a new plant there, which would be the largest-ever single fabrication line for cutting-edge memory chips. Industry forecasts say that Samsung would invest more than 30 trillion won into the new line.

“The vice chairman has long been involved in the planned investments in Korea and the US,” an industry official said.

Samsung may announce a major investment plan soon, the official added.

However, considering that visits by executives would still be restricted compared to Lee’s previous jail time in 2017, it would be difficult for him to discuss large-size plans like mergers and acquisitions, the official explained.

By Song Su-hyun (