[THE INVESTOR] The Fair Trade Commission has decided it’s very unlikely for Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee, who has been hospitalized after a heart attack in 2014, to return to work.
“The FTC has concluded, based on reports given by the conglomerate and his doctors, that Chairman Lee has little or no effective control over Samsung Group’s subsidiaries and affiliates as he is incapable of communicating,” said FTC head Kim Sang-jo on April 30 in a meeting with government officials.
On May 1, the commission decided to formally name his only son and Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong as the Samsung head. The move indicates the watchdog’s determination to hold the heir apparent responsible for any wrongdoings committed by any of the 62 Samsung subsidiaries and affiliates.
Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee (left) with his son Jae-yong.
However, the designation is limited to an administrative decision, meaning it does not actually affect Samsung’s current governance structure, according to Yook Sung-kwon, chief of the FTC’s business group policy division.
Since his heart attack, the bedridden chairman has been unable to make a public appearance, sparking speculation that he had already passed away and the conglomerate is hiding it to minimize any negative impact.
Jae-yong has a smaller stake in Samsung subsidiaries, but he is at the top of the corporate governance with the largest 17.08 percent stake in Samsung’s de facto holding company Samsung C&T.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)