South Korea’s richest man, Lee Kun-hee, returned yesterday as chairman of global giant Samsung Electronics, almost two years after stepping down following a probe into his business dealings.
Three months after Lee received a presidential pardon for tax evasion, the company said it needed his leadership “to take the upper hand in the global market amid the world economic crisis.”
The 68-year-old, however, expressed uncertainty about the future as Samsung tries to grow in the face of increasing low-cost Chinese competition.
“This is a time of real crisis. Global companies are crumbling. We don’t know what will happen to Samsung either,” a company statement quoted him as saying when he agreed to return at the request of its executives. “Within 10 years, all Samsung products may disappear. Now, we have to start anew. Let’s move on, with eyes set straight ahead.”
During his 20 years as chairman, Samsung Electronics became the world’s largest maker of computer memory chips and second-biggest manufacturer of mobile phones.
He resigned in April 2008 after being charged with tax evasion and breach of trust, but in December he received a special pardon so he could resume his suspended membership of the International Olympic Committee and work to bring the 2018 Winter Olympics to South Korea.
Samsung Electronics reported annual earnings of more than US$8 billion last year, along with record sales. It employs 164,600 people in 61 countries and is competing with Hewlett-Packard for the status of the world’s biggest technology firm by revenue, but Korea Investment Securities’ analyst Kim Jung-hoon said there was lingering uncertainty because of the effects of the global downturn as well as Chinese rivals that are fast catching up with South Korean firms.
“In the current situation, strong leadership is required. Lee’s return to the helm of the world’s largest producer of LCD panels and DRAM memory chips will be a great boon to the country’s economy,” Kim said.
Samsung Electronics shares closed up just 10,000 won (US$8.80), or 1.24 percent, at 819,000 won.
Kim Young-june, analyst with LIG Investment and Securities, told Dow Jones Newswires that Lee’s return was positive for the company’s management strategy.
“He might have decided to return to play a powerful leadership role in finding a future growth engine to capture a leading global position after the company survived the global financial crisis in good shape,” Kim Young-june said.
Solidarity for Economic Reform, a group campaigning for better corporate governance, however, said Samsung had turned its back on reform promises made two years ago.
“Samsung’s promise to reform made in April 2008 turned out to be a public fraud only aimed at winning a favorable court ruling,” it said in a statement.
Lee is the son of the founder of the Samsung group of companies, whose products or services touch every aspect of South Koreans’ lives. His own son, Jae-yong, is being groomed as a third-generation successor.
BLUE WAVE: The KMT’s Chiang Wan-an defeated the DPP’s Chen Shih-chung and is to become Taipei mayor, while President Tsai Ing-wen stepped down as DPP chairperson after many of the party’s candidates, handpicked by the leadership, performed poorly The Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) yesterday flipped key mayoral seats in Taipei, Taoyuan and Keelung, and won control of 13 out of 22 cities and counties in the nine-in-one local elections. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) last night resigned as Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) chairperson over a poor showing by the party’s candidates, who were handpicked by the DPP leadership rather than chosen through primaries. The Taiwan People’s Party (TPP) won its first high-profile race with Hsinchu mayoral candidate Ann Kao (高虹安) defeating Shen Hui-hung (沈慧虹) of the DPP with 45.02 percent of the vote to Shen’s 35.68 percent. Voters were choosing more than
UNDETERRED: The US chip designer’s plan showed that Taiwan remains attractive for investment by global companies despite cross-strait tensions, Wang Mei-hua said US graphics chip designer Nvidia Corp is planning to relocate its Hong Kong-based logistics center to Taiwan, Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花) said on Wednesday. The government had been in discussions with Nvidia regarding tax incentives to facilitate the move since last year, Wang said in an interview with the Central News Agency, adding that the two sides had reached a consensus. Wang did not provide details about the timetable for the move or the planned tax arrangements for Nvidia. The relocation would boost the local economy, as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電) is a major supplier of graphics processing
Kaohsiung police last week busted a money laundering operation suspected of seeking to interfere in tomorrow’s local elections. The operation was allegedly headed by a man surnamed Lee (李), who had received NT$9.5 billion (US$306.18 million) from China over the past six months, Kaohsiung police said yesterday, adding that Lee’s ring is suspected to be part of a larger Chinese effort to interfere in the elections and support pro-China candidates. Officers arrested Lee, 35, and his girlfriend, searched his mansion, and seized the money he had allegedly received from China and three luxury vehicles, police said. The operation was disguised as an online
CAUTION: Wearing a mask in crowded places and for people with chronic illnesses or allergies can help prevent COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, the CECC said The mask mandate for outdoor settings is to lifted on Thursday, and the weekly cap on international inbound travelers is to be removed on Dec. 10, the Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) said at its regular news conference yesterday. The center also announced that starting from Friday, children aged five to 11 can receive a COVID-19 vaccine booster, and that rules for visiting hospital patients are to be partially eased from Dec. 10. While wearing a mask will no longer be mandatory outdoors, Deputy Minister of Health and Welfare Victor Wang (王必勝) reminded the public that it would still be required