January 3, 2022
Speculation is growing that Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong may go on a work trip later this month possibly to China where the Korean tech giant is struggling to elevate smartphone and home appliance sales.
According to industry sources on Monday, the de facto Samsung chief is expected to make another business trip during the court’s holiday recess that begins later this month. Lee has been appearing in court hearings every Thursday regarding the controversial merger deal between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries back in 2015.
China is a crucial market for Samsung as it makes up almost 30 percent of its total revenue, the largest portion followed by 29 percent of the US, 16.4 percent of Asia-Africa and 12.6 percent of Europe.
But most of the sales come from its chip business, while its sales of smartphones and home appliances have been sluggish due to the dominance of powerful local rivals with cheaper pricing. When it comes to smartphone sales, Samsung’s market share has remained at less than 1 percent for years.
His rumored visit to China comes after Samsung reportedly set up a new China business team, called China Business Innovation Team, in a recent operational reorganization.
Lee is also likely to inspect its chip business in China amid uncertainties growing over the global supply chain crisis. Samsung operates two chip plants there. Xian, in particular, is Samsung’s sole memory chip production base abroad, with a second plant, worth $15 billion, soon to be completed there.
Lee last visited China in May 2020. At the time, he told local employees that “There is no future if we are tied to the past or content with the status quo.”
Along with China, Europe is also considered to be a possible destination. Europe is home to high-tech semiconductor equipment makers such as ASML of the Netherlands, where Samsung has poured in resources to bolster ties with local partners.