] South Korea’s food and entertainment giant CJ Group
on March 6 conducted its largest personnel reshuffle in recent years, promoting the chairman’s daughter and her husband as executives in charge of the group’s global business.
Lee Kyeong-hoo, 32, was named deputy president of CJ’s US office in Los Angeles. She has become an executive six years after joining the family-owned conglomerate. The eldest child of CJ Chairman Lee Jay-hyun
has been working for the group’s global marketing business, along with her husband Jung Jhong-hwan whom she met while studying at Columbia University, New York.
Appointing the two as executives was seen as the group speeding up its generational shift amid its owner’s prolonged absence in management.
The chairman left the firm’s management after he was indicted in 2013 on charges of embezzlement and tax evasion. He was sentenced to two years and six months in jail in 2015, but was pardoned by President Park Geun-hye the following year.
The chairman left for the US for treatment over the weekend, the group said. He suffers from Charcot Marie Tooth Disease, an inherited neurological disorder. But Lee Jay-hyun is expected to return to management within the first half of the year, the group said without giving a specific date.
“I think he should come back (no later than June) to put an end to this abnormal environment (of managing the group without the chairman),” said Yoon Yeo-jin, a public relations specialist for CJ Group.
The group has been led by Lee’s uncle Co-chairman Sohn Kyung-sik, but its ambition to expand its global presence has been put on hold since Lee Jay-hyun’s trials.
Owners of South Korean conglomerates often hold the ultimate authority to approve major investment plans, personnel management and corporate restructuring.
CJ has been eyeing a list of merger and acquisition opportunities, with an aim to generate 100 trillion won ($86.4 billion) in sales by 2020. It also hopes to generate 70 percent of the sales from overseas markets. But the group has been losing momentum to spur growth due to Lee’s prolonged absence. The group’s sales only reached around 30 trillion won last year.
The 38 executives promoted Monday are relatively young, reflecting the group’s efforts to strengthen its global marketing strategy, said Yoon.
The list, however, did not include the chairman’s son Lee Sun-ho, currently a manager at the group’s food unit CJ CheilJedang
It remains to be seen who the chairman will pass the leadership baton to.
Lee’s 27-year-old son is the second-largest holder of CJ Olive Networks, an online retail arm of the group, with a 17.97 percent stake, while his elder sister holds 6.91 percent. He also holds a 0.68 percent stake in CJ E&M
while his sister has minor stakes in various units including CJ Corp., CJ CheilJedang and CJ E&M.
By Cho Chung-un/The Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org