Can Samsung Be A More Exciting Brand Under Jr. Lee?
While there had always been discussions on Samsung’s succession plans, the time seems to have come to slowly hand over the keys. Samsung’s ailing chairman, the 73-year-old Lee Kun-hee, has started handing over responsibility for some of the company’s key assets to his son Lee Jae-yong, who is currently vice chairman of Samsung Electronics.
Last week, it was announced Lee Jae-yong had inherited the chairmanship of two charitable bodies and investment vehicles from his father, namely, Samsung Life Public Welfare Foundation and the Samsung Foundation of Culture.
While the timing of a leadership transfer is not yet set, analysts and investors are raising questions on whether the young Lee has what it takes to handle the transition. Many believe the entry of Samsung’s second-generation leader can see some shift in strategy, if not a major one and more importantly, in his management style and leadership.
Samsung has become a household name over the years. This is not only true in South Korea, but in many other parts of the globe, as the tech giant has everything in its basket, from smartphones to TV, and chips to computers and hundreds of other electronic gadgets and home appliances. Samsung can see more exciting days ahead.
Lee Kun-hee was a stern dictator and taskmaster. His son, Jae-yong, is viewed as completely the opposite and is known to be very approachable and unassuming. Tech enthusiasts wonder if the young Lee makes an effort in changing the smartphone design with the switchover to metal on the Galaxy Alpha, the Galaxy Note 4 and the two new Galaxy S6 devices.
There is possibility of injecting some ‘youth’ and ‘energy’ into Samsung and its mobile devices is exciting, believe experts. “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,” said a senior Samsung executive, told Reuters, who didn’t want to be named.
“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.”
As some investors question Samsung’s long-term growth prospects, with smartphone profits and margins tumbling from 2013 highs and new businesses not yet proving to be future growth drivers, Lee is taking a multi-pronged approach to keeping the smartphone business growing.
“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. He’s thinking synergies with the component business and also convergence with wearables, the ‘Internet of things’ and virtual reality,” the Samsung executive said.
Whether Jr. Lee is a visionary is yet to be proved, but a customer-centric businessman, sources have said that at this juncture, he just wants to be “successful businessman like his father and is trying hard to learn from him.”
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