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The Korea Herald
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THE INVESTOR
July 16, 2024

Economy

Samsung chief returns from Europe after meeting with Pope, business leaders

  • PUBLISHED :May 03, 2024 - 17:10
  • UPDATED :May 03, 2024 - 17:14
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Pope Francis (left) shakes hands with Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong during a visit to the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City on April 27. (Yonhap)

Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong returned to Seoul on Friday after his trip to Europe, where he made a surprise visit to Vatican City to meet with Pope Francis, and met with business counterparts for cooperation.

During the 10-day trip, Lee traveled to Germany, France and Italy, and checked on the company's business operations there.

“The spring has come,” he told reporters without further explanation, upon his arrival at the Seoul Gimpo Business Aviation Center. He did not answer other questions asking details about his trip.

According to industry sources, Lee met with Pope Francis in the Vatican for the first time on April 27. The meeting was contrived by Cardinal You Heung-sik, the fourth South Korean to be appointed to the position, who has served as the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Clergy since 2021.

Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong (center) speaks to reporters after arriving at Seoul Gimpo Business Aviation Center on Friday. (Yonhap)

On April 26, Lee met with top executives of the German optics manufacturer Zeiss, a crucial partner for the Korean tech giant's push to lead the burgeoning market for artificial intelligence chips.

He toured the Zeiss headquarters in Oberkochen and also discussed long-term partnership with Zeiss Group CEO Karl Lamprecht and Zeiss Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology CO Andreas Pecher.

There, Lee also met with Christophe Fouquet, the newly appointed CEO of ASML. ASML is the leading chipmaking equipment firm based in the Netherlands and is the sole producer of the cutting-edge extreme ultraviolet lithography machine used for the most advanced semiconductors.

For Samsung, which seeks to expand its foundry and logic chip businesses with demand for advanced chips on the rise, both Zeiss and ASML are crucial partners.

Zeiss has more than 2,000 patents for key technologies related to the extreme ultraviolet lithography process, and it supplies more than 30,000 parts for EUV lithography machines produced exclusively by ASML.

Wrapping up his trip to Germany and Italy, Lee moved to Paris to check on the Samsung Olympic Experience Zone, which the tech giant opened last month ahead of the upcoming Olympics in the French capital.

According to Samsung, the venue was designed in collaboration with Pritzker Architecture Prize winner Jean Nouvel, and displays the Olympic edition models of the Galaxy smartphone series. Samsung is an official partner of the International Olympic Committee.

The venue will operate from Friday to Oct. 31.

By Jo He-rim (herim@heraldcorp.com)

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