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Samsung chief meets Moderna, Verizon heads in US

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Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, left, poses with Moderna Chairman Noubar Afeyan on the sidelines of his visit to the head office of Flagship Pioneering, a bio investment venture established by the Moderna co-founder, Wednesday (KST). Courtesy of Samsung
Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, left, poses with Moderna Chairman Noubar Afeyan on the sidelines of his visit to the head office of Flagship Pioneering, a bio investment venture established by the Moderna co-founder, Wednesday (KST). Courtesy of Samsung

By Kim Yoo-chul

Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong held talks with Moderna Chairman Noubar Afeyan and Verizon Wireless CEO Hans Vestberg, in a bid to expand their business partnerships amid hyper competition in the biotech and telecom markets.

In a rare statement released by the company headquarters in Korea, Thursday afternoon, Samsung said its vice chairman had a discussion on various pending issues with Afeyan, who is also Moderna's co-founder, in Boston, Massachusetts, Wednesday (KST).

The meeting, arranged by Moderna CEO Stephane Bancel, took place at the head office of Flagship Pioneering, a bio investment venture established by Afeyan.

Regarding the specifics of the in-person encounter, Samsung said a lot of measures and steps for broadening the long-term mutual partnership in vaccine- and biotech-oriented businesses were proposed.

Moderna has accepted the government's repeated request to let Samsung Biologics manufacture its COVID-19 vaccines at Samsung's domestic plant for use by residents in Korea, because the country is accelerating its move to increase booster shots.

"The bio business was identified as one of Samsung's growth engines with Vice Chairman Lee handling this directly," a Samsung spokesman said.

Although Lee was in prison until this summer after a corruption conviction related to the impeachment and jailing of former President Park Geun-hye, Cheong Wa Dae said the decision to release Lee on parole was made because of his possible expanded role in addressing vaccine and chip shortage issues. A few days after his release, Samsung said it would invest heavily in the bio business.

Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, right, poses with Verizon Wireless CEO Hans Vestberg during his visit to Verizon headquarters in the U.S. state of New Jersey, Thursday morning (KST). Courtesy of Samsung
Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, right, poses with Verizon Wireless CEO Hans Vestberg during his visit to Verizon headquarters in the U.S. state of New Jersey, Thursday morning (KST). Courtesy of Samsung

A day after his visit to Massachusetts, Lee visited the headquarters of Verizon Wireless in New Jersey, Thursday morning, and held talks with Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg on ways to boost their partnership in the next-generation telecom business.

Verizon is one of the top clients for Samsung in the United States, as the latter won a $6.64 billion order to provide wireless systems in a deal regarded as a major win for its next-generation 5G network.

While Samsung is a global leader in memory chips, TVs and smartphones, its presence in the very lucrative network parts market isn't strong. Therefore, its partnership with Verizon will be a huge plus in terms of increased leverage to negotiate with other countries amid continued U.S. sanctions on Huawei.

Lee is expected to return home Nov. 23.



Kim Yoo-chul yckim@koreatimes.co.kr


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