Jay Y. Lee, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics Co., has resumed his public activity 45 days after his jail term was suspended with an overseas business trip to Europe in an attempt to reconstruct and solidify the South Korean tech giant’s network with its global business partners.
The heir of the Samsung empire had spent nearly a year in jail on bribery charges linked to impeached former Korean president Park Guen-hye. An appeals court reduced his jail term to two and a half years with four-year probation in February. Lee’s case has been referred to the Supreme Court.
“Lee has left for Europe to secure future growth engines and meet with global business partners,” said a Samsung official. Lee reportedly left for Europe on Thursday, a day before Samsung Electronics held its annual general shareholder`s meeting.
The family-run corporate empire was without its head for nearly a year with Chairman Lee Kun-hee bedridden with illness and his son in prison.
The conglomerate’s M&A activities will likely gain life with the heir back at the helm.
The last time the younger Lee was on a business trip abroad was to India in September 2016.
Lee is expected to meet with senior management of Exor N.V., an investment company that acts as the holding company for Italy’s Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V. (FCA). Lee had been Exor’s outside director since 2012 but lost a seat in 2017 after being embroiled in the corruption scandal.
His anticipated meeting with Exor management has spurred speculation that the Korean tech mogul may reattempt to acquire Magneti Marelli, automotive parts maker owned by FCA that the Korean tech giant reportedly chased in 2016. Samsung, which acquired Harman International Industries, a U.S-based in-car entertainment and audio systems company, for $8 billion in March 2017 instead of Magneti Marelli, has high interest in electronics-driven self-driving future mobility.
Lee also is expected to meet with the Wallenberg family, a prominent Swedish family that has a strong presence in large Swedish companies like Ericsson and Electrolux, as well as European companies that Lee has personal ties with. The upcoming meetings are expected to help restore and enhance ties between the Samsung mogul and its European business partners.
Shares of Samsung Electronics ended Monday up 1.13 percent at 2,514,000 won ($2,327.78).
By Lee Dong-in and Cho Jeehyun
[ⓒ Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]