Samsung is returning to making aggressive bets as its de facto chief and heir was released from jail earlier this week, BusinessKorea reported Friday, citing sources close to the company. Jay Y. Lee had his five-year prison sentence for bribing government officials slashed in half and suspended for four years by the Seoul High Court on Monday, with Samsung's scion now being expected to formally return to his role of Vice Chairman in the immediate future. Moving forward, the Seoul-based chaebol is considering building an e-commerce hub in Andhra Pradesh, India, in addition to mulling over a number of other ventures that it hopes can help it continue its massive growth after the global demand for memory chips winds down, insiders claim.
Kal Raman, Samsung's e-commerce chief for North America, already met with a number of Indian government officials in order to discuss new investments in the South Asian country earlier this month, local media reports. The scope of the possible financial commitment remains unclear, though at least a portion of it would likely be directly aimed at combating Xiaomi's growth in India where the Chinese firm is threatening Samsung's position of the country's largest phone vendor and is already surpassed it in terms of shipments, according to some industry trackers. The South Korean tech giant has a manufacturing plant in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, with the company previously announcing plans to invest approximately $777 million in the facility by 2020 in order to expand its operations.
A number of industry watchers are predicting Samsung will refocus some of its investments on data and software solutions targeting the enterprise segment going forward, arguing the said sector is set to grow to unprecedented heights once 5G is commercialized and still isn't as competitive as the global consumer electronics market where the company is being threatened from all sides of the globe. Samsung Strategic Innovation Center President Sohn Young-kwon hinted as much last October when he called Samsung Electronics "a data company," fueling speculation that more aggressive spending is on the horizon. The firm's last major bet was that placed on Harman International Industries purchased last March for $8 billion in cash as part of Samsung's largest foreign acquisition to date. While Mr. Lee was already detained by the time the takeover of Harman was completed, he was the one who spearheaded the talks that were completed in November of 2016 and no major M&As were announced following his arrest. The de facto head of the company is expected to succeed his father, Chairman Lee Kun-hee, who suffered a heart attack in mid-2014 that reportedly left him in a comatose state from which he has yet to recover.