Samsung Leadership Succession Seemingly In Progress
With Lee Kun-hee, the current chairman of Samsung Group, having been hospitalised last year following a heart attack, it appears that Samsung could be undertaking the process to install his son, Jay Y. Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, to the position of chairman.
As reported by The Wall Street Journal, Lee was elected chairman of the boards of two Samsung charitable foundations on Friday – Lee’s first chairmanships within Samsung – in what may well be part of the succession process, seeing Lee take over from his father.
The WSJ reported a person familiar with Samsung as labelling it a “potential first step” in Lee’s expected succession at Samsung.
As reported by Reuters, the process of succession has presented Lee with a delicate balancing act, pacing change with preserving his father’s legacy.
“He doesn’t want to be in the limelight just yet, with the chairman still alive – but he’s been very clear that he wants to be evaluated through performance and ensure Samsung keeps growing,” Reuters reported a senior Samsung executive, who didn’t want to be named as he’s not authorised to talk to the media, as stating.
“That’s why he’s been focusing on businesses he thinks Samsung can run successfully, and selling assets such as defence and chemicals. It was quite a decisive move.”
Samsung has yet to announce the timing of any leadership succession, however speculation is rife following the appointment of Lee to the respective chairmanships.
One way or another, the succession, when it does occur, will mark a significant change for Samsung, with Lee Kun-hee having been in the role of chairman since 1987.
Lee is faced with a number of challenges, including maintaining Samsung’s position in the increasingly competitive smartphone market, with Samsung facing significant competition in both the premium and low-end categories.
“With the high-end smartphone market near saturation, the vice chairman’s focus is on how to keep making healthy profits and extend its life cycle,” Reuters reported the executive as stating.
“He’s thinking synergies with the component business and also convergence with wearables, the ‘Internet of Things’ and virtual reality.”