SEOUL, Feb. 17 (Korea Bizwire) – Samsung Group, South Korea’s largest conglomerate, is expected to put most of its new business and investment plans on hold, at least temporarily, following the arrest of its heir-apparent Lee Jae-yong, market observers said Friday.
Lee, the group’s de facto leader, was arrested early Friday on charges of bribery in connection with a high-profile corruption scandal surrounding President Park Geun-hye and her friend Choi Soon-sil.
Following his arrest, the group is widely expected to halt its ongoing restructuring process that was partly aimed at enhancing Lee’s control over the group, the observers noted.
They said the group’s mergers and acquisitions of other firms may also face a temporary suspension.
Since Lee began filling the shoes of his now bed-ridden father Lee Kun-hee in 2014, the group’s flagship Samsung Electronics Co. has taken over 15 foreign firms, including the U.S. car components and audio manufacturer, Harman International, in a deal said to be worth US$8 billion.
Those acquisitions have been said to be aimed at strengthening the firm’s new business model under Lee’s leadership.
Samsung officials said the group may face certain limits amid Lee’s absence.
“There are limits to what a paid CEO can do, especially when pursuing a major investment or business project,” a company official said, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Such projects often require decisions from the chairman himself.”
Lee is currently a vice chairman of Samsung Electronics.
In 2016 alone, Samsung Electronics invested over 27 trillion won ($23.6 billion), the largest amount in its history.