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Funeral held for Samsung Chairman Lee

Eyes on leadership inheritance, changes in Samsung’s governance

The funeral procession leaves Samsung Electronics’ semiconductors headquarters in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, for the Lee family’s burial ground on Wednesday, as hundreds of employees pay tribute. (Yonhap)
The funeral procession leaves Samsung Electronics’ semiconductors headquarters in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, for the Lee family’s burial ground on Wednesday, as hundreds of employees pay tribute. (Yonhap)
A send-off ceremony for the late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee was held Wednesday, attended by bereaved family, friends and some Korean business tycoons as they bid a final farewell to the chairman who turned Samsung into Korea’s first world-class business empire.

Lee died Sunday at age 78, more than six years after being hospitalized for a heart attack.

The ceremony for Lee was held privately at a funeral hall at Samsung Medical Center in southern Seoul around 7:30 a.m. for about one hour, with his wife, Hong Ra-hee, and heirs, including Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, in attendance.

Shinsegae Group Chairwoman Lee Myung-hee, sister of the late Samsung chief, her son and Shinsegae Group Vice Chairman Chung Yong-jin and CJ Group Chairman Lee Jae-hyun, the nephew of Lee Kun-hee, attended the ceremony as well.

Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun also attended the funeral.

The chairman’s funeral procession visited the family’s house and the museum Leeum in Hannam-dong in central Seoul and Samsung’s semiconductors headquarters in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, before heading to the Lee family’s burial ground in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province.

At the Hwaseong corporate complex, hundreds of Samsung executives and employees stood in line to pay tribute to the late chairman. 

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)
Due to the death, how Samsung heir Lee Jae-yong will inherit a fortune of some 18 trillion won ($15.9 billion) from the late Chairman Lee has also been drawing attention across the business community.

Whether the late chairman had left a will or not remains unknown.

Some industry insiders say that considering the legal dispute between Chairman Lee and his older brother Lee Maeng-hee in 2012, the late chairman might have made a will to prevent possible legal fights within the family.

If the chairman had no will, the inheritance will proceed in compliance with the law.

Lee’s wife Hong would inherit 33.33 percent of 18.2 trillion won in stocks in Samsung Electronics and other affiliates. His three living children -- Lee Jae-yong and daughters Lee Bu-jin and Lee Seo-hyun -- would get 22.22 percent each. 

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)
This scenario would make Hong Ra-hee the largest individual shareholder for Samsung Electronics and Samsung Life Insurance, being the casting voter for the entire governance structure of the conglomerate.

However, Hong’s inheritance would make her stake in Samsung Electronics 0.91 percent, slightly more than Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong’s 0.7 percent. This wouldn’t shake the heir’s leadership structure, some predict.

“Given than Vice Chairman Lee has taken over most of the management of the business empire since 2013 as the only son of the late chairman, the leadership inheritance would take place smoothly,” said an industry official. 

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