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Ex-Samsung Group Chairman Returns to Management

Posted March. 25, 2010 04:20,   


Former Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee yesterday returned to Samsung management as the head of Samsung Electronics.

His comeback came 23 months after he resigned as group chairman on April 22, 2008, due to a criminal investigation on several allegations, including the amassing of slush funds.

Rhee In-yong, chief spokesman for Samsung Electronics, said, “Chairman Lee will assume the post of the chairman of Samsung Electronics today.”

Rhee said a council of Samsung CEOs discussed Lee’s return twice last month and drew up a letter of recommendation to this end. They are known to have agreed that the electronics company needs Lee’s leadership and experience to adapt to a rapidly changing business environment.

The executives at the meetings were gripped with a sense of crisis that a top global company can abruptly collapse since Toyota’s recall fiasco erupted at the time, the spokesman said.

The letter was delivered to Lee through Samsung Life Insurance Chairman Lee Soo-bin. At first, Lee Kun-hee refused the recommendation, saying, “The time is not ripe.”

After thinking about it for about a month, however, Lee Kun-hee expressed a willingness to return to management Tuesday.

“We are facing a real crisis now. Leading global companies are collapsing. Nobody knows when Samsung will face the same fate. Products that represent Samsung will disappear within 10 years. We will make a new start. We cannot afford to hesitate. Let’s march forward looking ahead,” he said.

Accordingly, the group is setting up an office for Lee Kun-hee on the 42nd floor of Samsung Electronics headquarters in Seoul’s southern district of Seocho.

His return will expedite the pace of the group’s decision making on all matters, including investment and business adjustment, experts said.

On Lee Kun-hee’s activities to help Pyeongchang win the right to host the 2018 Winter Olympics, his title as Samsung Electronics chief is expected to help since the company is an Olympic sponsor.

The Samsung Group is also considering expanding its organization, which was downsized in the wake of Lee Kun-hee’s resignation in 2008. Under consideration is a plan to transform the business assistance team, communication team and legal assistance team into the business assistance department, the brand management department, and the ethical management department.