SEOUL, Jan. 9 (Korea Bizwire) — A record-breaking performance last year by Samsung Electronics Co., immediately followed by the earnings shock the company experienced in the fourth quarter last year is clearly bad news for Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, due to concerns that the company’s legendary semiconductor business may falter under his watch.
Experts explain that the Lee’s recent tour around the company was driven by the anxiety that crisis is just around the corner.
Lee’s New Year’s agenda includes securing potential next-generation industries and restoring Samsung’s reputation by focusing on corporate social responsibility.
Last August, Lee announced long-term investment plans that will inject as much as 180 trillion won ($159.8 billion) into artificial intelligence, biotechnology, 5G networking, and automobile parts.
The new initiative aims to secure new industries where Samsung can guarantee a top seat in the global market following the television, smartphone, and semiconductor industries.
However, both international and domestic uncertainties are expected to stand in the way of Samsung’s road to success.
Another important task at hand is to improve Samsung’s negative reputation for back-scratching the government in the past decades.
As such, Samsung is expected to continue carrying out its social responsibilities following a series of incidents last year including hiring a distressed former employee of an external contractor in partnership with Samsung Electronics Service Co., giving a full-time job to a dispatched driver, guaranteeing labor union activities, and putting an end to the dispute with former semiconductor assembly workers who fell victim to leukemia.
Samsung is also expected to provide support in building smart factories for small to medium-sized companies and educating programmers as part of its plan to cooperate with President Moon Jae-in’s initiative for coexistence and inclusive growth.
Last year, Samsung SDI Co., Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance Co., and Samsung Electro-Mechanics Co. sold their shares in Samsung C&T Corp., most likely as a move to garner positive public opinion over Lee’s succession to the Samsung throne by loosening cross-shareholding practices.
In addition, Samsung announced its intention to establish a research institute on fine dust this year to develop technology to tackle air pollution.
Nevertheless, many still expect Lee to face a series of difficulties in the coming months as he awaits a Supreme Court decision, not to mention the ongoing investigation into Samsung BioLogics Co.
The South Korean government’s unwithering will to overhaul South Korean conglomerates, as well as accusations against Lee over attempts to disperse labor unions, will only add onto Lee’s upcoming trouble.
“International and domestic uncertainties, negative public opinion, and downturns in company performance are more than enough to make Lee anxious,” said one expert.
“For the time being, Lee is expected to focus on developing potential industries and carrying out corporate social responsibilities.”
Kevin Lee (firstname.lastname@example.org)