As Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong greeted Kim Dong-yeon, deputy prime minister and finance minister who paid a visit to Samsung’s semiconductor plant in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, on August 6, he made his first public appearance in South Korea after being released from prison in February. This was the first meeting between the government’s top economic official and the head of South Korea’s largest company.
Following the meeting, Lee is expected to announce a large-scale investment plan that reflects his new business strategy. An economic analyst said, “This is time for Samsung Electronics to cope with China’s big push for semiconductors and develop the company’s future growth engines after smartphones.”
In fact, China, which has been promoting the semiconductor industry at the national level, is to unveil its first self-developed 3D NAND flash prototype in the US market in the near future. It is also closing the technological gap in memory chips at a fast pace based on the nation’s powerful market and capital strength.
Accordingly, Samsung Electronics is expected to try to maintain its lead by making a preemptive investment. The company is highly likely to invest more than 30 trillion won (US$26.67 billion) in the second floor of its semiconductor plant in Pyeongtaek and make an additional investment to promote the non-memory semiconductor business. In addition, it is planning to widen the gap with China by raising the competitiveness of nano fabrication technology at a rapid pace through its extreme ultraviolet (EUV) line in Hwaseong.
Artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT) and autonomous vehicle electronic parts are also the strategic fields that Lee considers as Samsung Electronics’ future growth engines. Lee recently visited Europe to examine the trends of the AI industry. He also met automotive component and smartphone manufacturers in Japan and China to discuss cooperation plans during his previous business trips. Industry watchers believe Samsung Electronics could acquire additional companies related to self-driving cars and AI.
However, Lee has more things to get through in order to execute his aggressive management strategy. He is still awaiting a Supreme Court ruling on the allegations that he paid bribes to a top aide of the country’s former President Park Geun-hye in exchange for business favors. The current government’s pressure for chaebol reform is also a burden. The business community believes that Lee needs to overcome such obstacles to push for his management objectives.
During his meeting with Lee, Economy and Finance Minister Kim requested that Samsung play a leading role in promoting mutual growth between large and small companies, improve the governance structure and stop unfair business practices. Lee replied, “We will create more jobs by advancing technology that only Samsung can do and creating values.”