Samsung’s strategic decision-making in limbo amid leader’s absence

SEOUL-- Crucial decision-making at global tech firm Samsung Electronics Co. has been pushed back since its de facto leader Lee Jae-yong was imprisoned in February, industry sources said Monday.

According to the sources, Samsung held fewer in-house strategy meetings in the second quarter compared with the year earlier period. The in-house strategic meeting is attended by the heads of Samsung's three major business units, including its handset business.

The South Korean tech giant hosted two strategy meetings over the April-June period, compared with four gatherings held a year earlier.

The 49-year-old vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, the only son and heir to Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee, has been behind bars since February on charges of providing or promising some 43.3 billion won (US$37.9 million) to former President Park Geun-hye's confidante Choi Soon-sil in return for the state pension's support of the merger of Samsung's two units in 2015.

The younger Lee has effectively run the company since his father was hospitalized after suffering a heart attack in 2014.

Amid Lee's absence, Samsung did not handle any agenda on making new investments nor acquisitions for the meetings held in the second quarter.

"Although Samsung has been posting record-breaking earnings for the first half on the back of an industrywide boom of chips, the overall sentiment lies in the doldrums due to the absence of the leader," an industry insider said. "The company also seems to remain low key amid the government's bid to reform conglomerates.

"If the situation continues, the company will lose steam over investments, posing problems to its long-term global competitiveness."

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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