[THE INVESTOR] Samsung Electronics is making deals and announcing new activities in target business areas wherever its de facto leader goes, though the company refuses to confirm any connection between the two.
The itinerary of Lee Jae-yong’s latest trip seems to have been closely connected to the South Korean conglomerate’s new business interests -- mainly artificial intelligence. Lee is the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics and the only son of Chairman Lee Kun-hee who has been in hospital since suffering from a serious heart attack.
After Lee’s visit to Toronto from Oct. 5- 10, the tech mogul announced Friday that Samsung had established its seventh AI center in Montreal, the second-biggest city in Canada and home to one of the world’s fastest growing AI communities.
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong in India in August
Samsung’s fourth AI center in North America – following others in Silicon Valley, New York and Toronto -- will focus on expanding industrial collaboration and talent recruitment related to AI technologies, according to the company.
The opening of the Montreal center was part of Samsung’s new growth plans to expand its AI research capabilities to 1,000 by 2020 and ensure all Samsung products and services are AI enabled.
“We can’t confirm whether the vice chairman had actually visited the centers in Canada or not, but his overseas trips are usually related to scouting global talents and learning new technology trends,” a Samsung official said.
After Toronto, Lee also visited the UK and Germany. In Stuttgart, Lee was anticipated to have met with automakers like Daimler-Benz, Porsche and parts maker Bosch.
In August, Samsung announced the four major businesses the tech titan will focus on for another leap of growth with about 25 trillion won of investment. The four businesses are AI, fifth-generation networks, biopharmaceuticals and automotive parts.
Samsung also hinted Thursday it was back in the M&A market by disclosing its acquisition of Zhilabs, a Barcelona-based firm known for its AI-based network and service analytics, to enhance its 5G capabilities. The acquisition will lay the foundation for Samsung to foster its 5G offerings of automation and network analytics to finely tune the customer experiences in the 5G era, the company said.
“At Samsung, workforces are being relocated as part of unofficial organizational reshuffles by each business unit to what seems to be centering on Lee’s new business areas,” an industry insider said.
According to Samsung officials, Lee’s trip to Europe is expected to extend further than initially expected, and outcomes of the latest trip would be announced after his comeback.
By By Song Su-hyun/The Korea Herald (firstname.lastname@example.org)