The chairman of South Korean electronics giant Samsung Group and the richest man in South Korea, Lee Jianxi, who has been in the hospital for a heart attack for many years, died on Sunday (Oct. 25) at the age of 78.
Samsung released a statement stating that Li Jianxi passed away on Sunday in the company of his son Li Jayyong, who was also vice president of the Samsung Group. The statement also described Li Jianxi as a “visionary man”, making Samsung a world-class company from a local company. South Korean President Moon Jae-in extended his deep condolences to Lee Kin-hee’s family and said that in the difficult economic period of the new COVID-19 coronavirus epidemic, Lee’s leadership ability will become a model for Korean companies.
Li Jianxi’s father, Li Bingzhe, was the founder of the Samsung Group. After Li Bingzhe passed away in 1987, Li Jianxi succeeded his father as the group’s president, and the group continued to expand under his leadership. The Yonhap News Agency found that the Samsung Group’s total market value increased from 900 billion won that year to 318.76 trillion won ($ 282.6 billion; $ 18,900 yuan) in 2014; “Forbes” estimated Li Jianxi’s personal net worth to be almost $ 21 billion.
Lee Jae-yong is believed to inherit his father and become the new president of the Samsung Group. However, he was involved in the former President Park Geun-hye’s corruption case and has not yet been resolved. He was later accused of manipulating the stock price in a 2015 merger. These incidents cast uncertain factors on whether the leadership of the Samsung Group can be successfully transferred.
From media to electronics
Li Jianxi was born on January 9, 1942 in Daegu City, North Korea, Japan. He is the seventh of eight brothers and sisters and is Li Bingzhe’s third child.
In 1953, Li Jianxi was sent by his father to study in Japan and later returned to South Korea for high school and then went to Japan again. In 1965, he graduated from Waseda University in Japan with a specialization in business administration. In 1966, he completed an MBA at George Washington University in the United States.
At that time, Li Bingzhe founded Toyo Broadcasting (TBC Toyo Broadcasting Company) and the “Central Daily News” successively, and Hong Jinji (also translated as Hong Lianji) was in charge of the media business for him. After returning to China, Lee Kin-hee joined Dongyang Broadcasting and worked as a manager. In 1967, he married Hong Luoxi, Hong Jinji’s eldest daughter.
Soon after, Toyo Broadcasting merged with “Joongang Ilbo”, and Lee Kin-hee became director (director) of the new company in 1968. He started contacting Samsung headquarters in 1978 and became vice president president of Samsung C&T. In 1987, he became president of the Samsung Group.
“Everything must change”
After the Samsung Group was acquired by Li Jianxi in 1987, it slowly developed into a world-renowned company with products including TVs, monitors and cell phones, successfully competing with Japanese brands known as Sony and Matsushita Electric.
Reuters described Li Jianxi as having a strong sense of crisis. After taking over the Samsung Group in 1993, he felt that the company was still not doing well. He called many managers at an appliance store in the United States to evaluate sales of Samsung products, but found out. A dusty Samsung TV, although it is $ 100 cheaper than a Sony TV in the same store, nobody cares about it.
Then he met with the board and decided to change the company’s development course and win with quality. In the same year, he introduced the “new management concept”, the most famous phrase of which was asking the board to “change everything but his wife and children”.
Samsung gradually developed into a world-renowned brand, but some of its handling methods led to legal problems during the period. He resigned as president of Samsung in 2008. In the same year, Seoul prosecutors accused him of helping his children buy shares in the Samsung Group at low prices. He ended up being convicted of illegal transfer of operational rights and tax evasion, and was sentenced to three years in prison. , Suspended for five years.
He was later pardoned by then-president of South Korea, Lee Myung-Bok, for his merits in helping Seoul compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Lee Kin-hee became president of the Samsung Group again in 2010. He was admitted to Samsung Hospital in Seoul for a heart attack in May 2014 and has been bedridden since.
Li Jianxi has four children, but there is only one son, Li Jae-yong, so Li Jae-yong is expected to inherit his father’s position in the Samsung Group.
However, he was involved in a corruption case involving former South Korean President Park Geun-hye in 2016 and was investigated. The following year, he was prosecuted by South Korean prosecutors for bribery and embezzlement of public funds. He was later convicted and sentenced to five years in prison, but later he appealed and the case was finally returned to a new trial, still pending.
South Korean prosecutors also accused him of deliberately manipulating stock prices when dealing with the merger of two of its Samsung Group subsidiaries in order to increase its control over the Samsung Group. These cases usually take 18 months to complete and, if either party appeals to the Supreme Court of South Korea, it could take two years.
The Yonhap News Agency described Lee Jae-yong’s legal proceedings as causing concern about whether he could successfully take over his father’s company.