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Chuseok offers no break for business tycoons

By Nam Hyun-woo

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong
Korea is entering the four-day Chuseok long weekend, but chaebol leaders are expected to remain restless, as an aggravating business environment, trade uncertainties and a number of other thorny issues are lingering over their corporate empires, according to industry officials Wednesday.

Officials at Samsung Group, Hyundai Motor Group, SK Group and LG Group said their respective leaders will not have any work officially scheduled during the holidays, but they will take care of pending issues at home.

"Though chaebol leaders appear to be making no special visits to plants or overseas bodies during this year's Chuseok holidays, that does not mean they are resting," a conglomerate official said. "This is so especially this year, because there are too many uncertainties that each group is facing."

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong is expected to remain home in Hannam-dong, unlike his previous visit to Samsung's Chinese units during the Lunar New Year holiday in February.

The most urgent issue Lee is facing is a rulings on his involvement in the corruption scandal of impeached former President Park Geun-hye. Late last month, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeals court ruling which had given him a suspended sentence and pulled him out of prison. He was serving a five-year term following a lower court ruling.

Since he has to go over trials at the Seoul High Court again and the chances of him to be incarcerated again remain, this casts uncertainties over the leadership of Samsung.

Lee's current term as Samsung Electronics' board member will expire on Oct. 26. Since renewing his term requires a shareholders' meeting, his efforts for a second term may face opposition from shareholders, including the National Pension Service, which have expressed concerns on the uncertainty of the trial results.

Along with Lee's legal problem, the ongoing trade tension between Korea and Japan is another matter he has to take care of. Since July 4, Japan has been restricting the exports of key semiconductor materials to Korea, allowing only three batches of exports to Samsung Electronics. Other Samsung units are also making efforts to lower their reliance on Japanese materials.

Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Euisun
Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Euisun
Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Euisun, who visited the Frankfurt Motor Show on Tuesday, returned to Korea on Wednesday and will spend the holidays without any official appointments, according to the group.

Industry officials said Chung will likely spend his time off looking into the restructuring of the group's shareholding structure, which is anticipated to take place later this month, as key units in the group's governance showed improved earnings over the past several months.

Another task for Chung is coming up with contingencies when the U.S. makes its final decision on whether to place a 25 percent tariff on imported vehicles based on Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act. If the U.S. decides so, Hyundai Motor's sales momentum in the U.S. may face setbacks, because nearly half of its U.S. sales volume is imported from Korea.

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won
SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won
SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won will also spend the holidays without an official schedule. An SK Group official said Chey will likely spend his time focusing on the future direction of the group and guiding SK units to embrace social value as a major corporate philosophy.

SK Group is sharing similar concern with Samsung as its semiconductor unit SK hynix is exposed to risks stemming from Japan's restrictions on chip materials. Also, SK Innovation's legal battle with LG Chem is another issue that requires Chey's attention.

LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo will also stay home during the holidays, according to an LG Group official, to have time to plan for the future of its units amid intensifying competition in the market.

LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo
LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo
By Nam Hyun-woo

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong
Korea is entering the four-day Chuseok long weekend, but chaebol leaders are expected to remain restless, as an aggravating business environment, trade uncertainties and a number of other thorny issues are lingering over their corporate empires, according to industry officials Wednesday.

Officials at Samsung Group, Hyundai Motor Group, SK Group and LG Group said their respective leaders will not have any work officially scheduled during the holidays, but they will take care of pending issues at home.

"Though chaebol leaders appear to be making no special visits to plants or overseas bodies during this year's Chuseok holidays, that does not mean they are resting," a conglomerate official said. "This is so especially this year, because there are too many uncertainties that each group is facing."

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong is expected to remain home in Hannam-dong, unlike his previous visit to Samsung's Chinese units during the Lunar New Year holiday in February.

The most urgent issue Lee is facing is a rulings on his involvement in the corruption scandal of impeached former President Park Geun-hye. Late last month, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeals court ruling which had given him a suspended sentence and pulled him out of prison. He was serving a five-year term following a lower court ruling.

Since he has to go over trials at the Seoul High Court again and the chances of him to be incarcerated again remain, this casts uncertainties over the leadership of Samsung.

Lee's current term as Samsung Electronics' board member will expire on Oct. 26. Since renewing his term requires a shareholders' meeting, his efforts for a second term may face opposition from shareholders, including the National Pension Service, which have expressed concerns on the uncertainty of the trial results.

Along with Lee's legal problem, the ongoing trade tension between Korea and Japan is another matter he has to take care of. Since July 4, Japan has been restricting the exports of key semiconductor materials to Korea, allowing only three batches of exports to Samsung Electronics. Other Samsung units are also making efforts to lower their reliance on Japanese materials.

Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Euisun
Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Euisun
Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Euisun, who visited the Frankfurt Motor Show on Tuesday, returned to Korea on Wednesday and will spend the holidays without any official appointments, according to the group.

Industry officials said Chung will likely spend his time off looking into the restructuring of the group's shareholding structure, which is anticipated to take place later this month, as key units in the group's governance showed improved earnings over the past several months.

Another task for Chung is coming up with contingencies when the U.S. makes its final decision on whether to place a 25 percent tariff on imported vehicles based on Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act. If the U.S. decides so, Hyundai Motor's sales momentum in the U.S. may face setbacks, because nearly half of its U.S. sales volume is imported from Korea.

SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won
SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won
SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won will also spend the holidays without an official schedule. An SK Group official said Chey will likely spend his time focusing on the future direction of the group and guiding SK units to embrace social value as a major corporate philosophy.

SK Group is sharing similar concern with Samsung as its semiconductor unit SK hynix is exposed to risks stemming from Japan's restrictions on chip materials. Also, SK Innovation's legal battle with LG Chem is another issue that requires Chey's attention.

LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo will also stay home during the holidays, according to an LG Group official, to have time to plan for the future of its units amid intensifying competition in the market.

LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo
LG Group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo
Nam Hyun-woo namhw@koreatimes.co.kr


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