[THE INVESTOR] Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong will visit Vietnam for three days from Oct. 30 to oversee operations there, according to sources on Oct. 29.
Since he was released from prison in February, he has made six overseas trips, including to China, Japan, Hong Kong, India and some European nations where he reportedly paid a visit to Samsung offices, artificial intelligence labs, and business partners. The trips are also said to be aimed at seeking potential merger and acquisition deals for new growth engines.
Samsung busy expanding AI, 5G and automotive biz
He was behind bars for a year after he was convicted of bribery and other corruption charges in a scandal surrounding the now-impeached former President Park Geun-hye and her confidante Choi Soon-sil.
During the upcoming trip, Lee is expected to have a meeting with Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to talk about partnerships in the nation. The Samsung heir is also anticipated to visit the firm’s manufacturing sites for smartphones, TVs and home appliances. The tech giant rolls out 150 million smartphone units per year in the Southeast Asian nation, accounting for almost half of the company’s entire annual smartphone production volume.
Amid the fierce competition with rivals and the falling margins of its smartphone business, there are speculations that Samsung will operate additional smartphone factories in Vietnam where it can save costs thanks to the relatively cheap labor.
Samsung’s smartphone division saw its operating profit drop this year, from 3.77 trillion won (US$3.30 billion) in the January-March period this year to 2.67 trillion won in the second quarter. Its third-quarter operating income is anticipated to be 2.23 trillion won.
“Moving facilities, including assembly lines, from China to other markets, like Vietnam, is an option many smartphone and display companies have chosen recently for cost saving,” an industry source said.
By Kim Young-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)