Lee-Kun-hee died. Who will be Samsung’s next president?

On 25 October 2020 the Korean giant’s president passed away, the one who brought the company into the top 10 of the best brands in the world. In 2014 he suffered a heart attack that forced him to bed for a long period at Seoul Hospital, where he died at the age of 78. 

The company greets him in a note: “We mourn a visionary, his legacy will be eternal”. It is thanks to him that Samsung, went from being a televisions and other low-cost appliances manufacturer to one of the most powerful technology brands in the world, ranking for a long time as the world’s leading smartphone seller. 

Lee-Kun-hee had become the richest man in Korea, with an estimated assets of 18 billion euros and with his company he contributed to a fifth of South Korea’s GDP. He was nicknamed the “emeritus king” and with his most famous quote “change everything except wives and children”, pronounced during a company speech given in Frankfurt in 1993, he announced the series of management reforms that would later change the fortunes of the company. 

Despite the scandals that saw him protagonist first in 1995 because of corruption, then in 2008 because of tax evasion and embezzlement, it is precisely the family that has always remained close to him. 

For some time now, due to Lee-Kun-hee’s illness, his son Lee Jae-yong was acting as president of the company, being its vice president and guide. That is why he would be the best person to inherit the company, handed down to his father by his grandfather Lee Byung-chul who founded it in 1938. That and also because that is how chaebols, the family-owned industrial conglomerates that basically hold control of the South Korean industry, work.

Jae-yong, just like his father, had several problems with justice. In 2017 he was in fact at the center of a maxi-corruption scandal that led to the impeachment of the now former President of the Republic Geun-hye. Following the initial sentence that sentenced him to 5 years of imprisonment, Lee Jae-yong spent almost a year behind bars and the possibility that he could go back to jail is not excluded.

The succession at the top of the Korean giant therefore promises to be somewhat complicated. Furthermore, according to a South Korean law, whoever takes over Lee-Kun-hee’s share will have to pay a billion-dollar inheritance tax. According to some rumors, it is possible that Jae-yong decides to reduce his stake in the company.

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