Lee Kun-hee

Samsung’s Chairman Lee Kun-hee Suffers Heart Attack – Is Son Prepared to Take His Place

May 12, 2014 - Written By Cory McNutt

Samsung’s often-controversial Chairman Lee Kun-hee is being hospitalized after suffering a heart attack, but is in stable condition.  Late on Saturday, Mr. Lee, 72, had trouble breathing and was taken to the emergency room at Samsung Medical Center where they performed CPR.  Neither the hospital nor Samsung could comment on how long he would be in the hospital.  Mr. Lee was also hospitalized in August last year suffering from pneumonia, most likely as a complication from his lung cancer treatment in the late 1990’s.  It is believed that Mr. Lee, although not involved too much in the day-to-day operations, is said to have final say when a decision is needed in key areas. Every time the elder Mr.Lee has a health related issue, everybody wonders whether his son, Jay Y. Lee, is ready to take over the huge conglomerate.

Lee Kun-hee joined the Samsung group in 1968 and took over the reins of the company in 1987 after the death of his father, Lee Byung-chui, who founded Samsung.  Under Lee’s tenure, he turned the Korean budget name into a major international force that is now one of the world’s leading developers and producers of semiconductors and has made Lee one of the world’s richest men with net worth of about $12.5 billion. Samsung sells everything from HDTVs, appliances, displays, processors,and memory chips, but is probably best known as the world’s largest supplier of smartphones.

His rise to prominence has not been without some turmoil when in 2008 the Korean police raided his home when charges were brought up that Samsung was responsible for a slush fund used to bride influence people and political figures.  The courts found him guilty of financial wrongdoing and tax evasion and sentenced him to three years suspended jail time.  Lee never responded to the verdict and several months later, the South Korean President, Lee Myung-bak pardoned Lee. There have also been reports, and even a movie made, about the working conditions in some of the plants – all of which Samsung denies.

The big question remains – is Jay Y Lee, 45, ready to take over his father’s company?  He has really become the recent face of Samsung and is believed to have been instrumental in handling major deals with Apple and other global business leaders.  Samsung itself has recently taken a number of steps to ‘soften’ and help the transition to the younger Lee.  At the end of last year, Jay Y Lee was the third largest shareholder of Samsung SDS with an 11.3-percentage share and holds the majority 25.1-percent in Samsung Everland Inc – the main holding group of the Samsung Group. He has been serving as Vice Chairman of Samsung Electronics after serving as COO until 2012.

Please let us know on our Google+ Page if you think there will be many changes at Samsung under the reins of the younger Lee, and if so, what changes do you foresee…as always, we would love to hear from you.