Samsung heir takes independent steps
Samsung Electronics Chief Operating Officer (COO) Lee Jay-yong, also the heir-apparent of Korea’s most powerful industrial conglomerate Samsung Group, is taking a more independent stance. It is a move seen to try and set himself apart from other group CEOs and improve his profile.
Lee has so far been passive about having direct meetings with high-profile business tycoons. Samsung Electronics CEO Choi Gee-sung, who is regarded as the COO’s ``mentor’’ accompanied Lee.
But Lee has been cutting his dependence on Choi.
``Jay-yong held a direct meeting with top decision-makers without the Choi. He is increasing his influence on all of Samsung by involving himself in various critical group-wide projects,’’ said a senior Samsung executive on Tuesday, asking not to be identified.
``As far as I know, Lee is going through leadership tests set by his father, Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee and we do not think any big issues will arise over the succession process,’’ said the executive.
The younger Lee is trying to prove that he is ready to take control of Samsung.
Recently, he met with new Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai to expand the partnership between Samsung and Sony to include OLED screens. The two companies are in talks to buy Samsung’s OLED screens for use in Sony’s Bravia-branded lineup, according to Samsung officials.
Exor, an Italy-based investment firm, has also recommended Jay-yong become an independent director to its board, which was confirmed by Samsung.
The COO also met with Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn to boost a strategic partnership between Samsung and the German carmaker, according to Samsung.
``The COO has a strong interest in batteries for use in electric vehicles (EVs), System-on-Chips (SoC) for cars, and OLEDs. He will meet chief executives of major carmakers in Europe, China and the United States as part of a promotional campaign for Samsung’s parts,’’ said Rhee In-yong, chief communications officer for Samsung, in a briefing.
General Motors CEO Dan Akerson, Akio Toyoda, CEO of Toyota and BMW Chairman Norbert Reithofer were also among those who had face-to-face meetings with the Samsung COO.
``Jay-yong will discuss various pending issues in a meeting with Ford CEO Alan Mulally sometime in the latter half of the year,’’ said a Samsung official. Ford officials in Korea declined to confirm this.