[KH Explains] A look back on Lee Jae
Friday is the first anniversary of Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong's official ascension to the top post at Korea's largest conglomerate.
Over the past year, the Samsung chief conducted various management activities to explore new opportunities, laying the foundation for his own “New Samsung” vision, while succeeding the legacy of his father, the late Chairman Lee Kun-hee, who died three years ago.
Experts agree that his push for “supergap technology” is the right direction for Samsung to consolidate its leadership in its core businesses, but they also advise him to make bolder decisions such as large-scale mergers and acquisitions to secure an early edge in future growth drivers.
The investment push for supergap technology is widely touted as the key feature of Lee's first year as chairman. Despite growing fears of an economic slowdown, Samsung has continued spending on research and development.
He has presented a blueprint to make Samsung -- the world’s No. 1 memory chip maker -- the global leader in system semiconductors by 2030, outpacing its archrival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. in terms of production capacity.
Samsung’s device solution division in charge of the tech giant’s sprawling chip business has suffered trillions of won in losses in recent quarters, hit hard by the slump in the memory chip market this year. But at the same time, the company has bolstered its readiness for the future by making massive investments.
In the second quarter this year, when Samsung’s operating profit plummeted 95 percent on-year, R&D spending soared 15.2 percent from a year prior to some 7.2 trillion won ($5.3 billion), while facility investment recorded 14.5 trillion won, up 18 percent in the same period.
The company is planning to spend 20 trillion won by 2030 to develop a new semiconductor R&D complex in Giheung, Gyeonggi Province, which is expected to work on advanced chips.