Well, it seems those rumors that surfaced in South Korea earlier this week were true. During an extraordinary shareholders meeting held at Samsung’s headquarters in Seoul on Thursday, a vote of hands decided that Lee Jae-yong is to be awarded a seat on the company’s board of directors. Lee was originally nominated for the position last month and wasn’t present during the voting process, but his official statement is expected to follow early next week.
This appointment marks an important landmark for Samsung seeing how it’s been eight years since a member of the Lee family held a position in the company’s boardroom. For the uninitiated, Lee Jae-yong’s grandfather Lee Byung-chull was the person who originally founded Samsung back in 1938. Since then, the Lee family was slowly losing their ownership stake in the company, but it remains heavily involved in day-to-day dealings at Samsung to this day. While Samsung is the nation’s most valuable conglomerate and the largest smartphone and semiconductor maker in the world, the company’s currently going through some turbulent times following the aftermath of the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco. Lee Jae-yong is now facing a difficult task as shareholders are expecting him to help guide Samsung through these difficulties.
In addition to managing all civil and criminal cases related to Samsung, the 48-year-old will also supervise critical strategic decisions and management restructurings which are expected to take place soon as latest reports suggest Samsung may lay off as much as 200 executives following the latest annual employee performance review.
Other than Lee’s appointment, Samsung’s shareholders and investors also voted for separating the conglomerate’s printing business division and subsequently selling it to HP Inc., one of the two successors of Hewlett-Packard. Samsung will officially spin off the unit on Tuesday, November 1st, while the transaction with HP is expected to be completed shortly after. As the conglomerate’s CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon explained it, this decision was made in an effort to reorganize Samsung Electronics’ business units so that the tech giant can better concentrate “on what it does best.”
As for Lee Jae-yong, his appointment makes sense given his high qualifications and experience in several different management positions at Samsung which he held since 1991. Whether he manages to increase the company’s competitiveness or not remains to be seen, but one thing is sure – big changes are on the horizon for the largest smartphone manufacturer on the planet.