Conglomerates to ask CEOs to promote resilience for future - Korea Times
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Conglomerates to ask CEOs to promote resilience for future

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By Baek Byung-yeul

With the season for annual executive reshuffle of major conglomerates approaching, eyes are on how Samsung, SK, LG and other conglomerates will restructure their organizations at a time when they are facing unresolved uncertainties after the virus outbreak.

Attention is focusing more on this year's reshuffle of executives as the results may provide some indications of how the big companies expect to overcome the various difficulties caused by the pandemic.

Starting from LG Group, the affiliates of which are scheduled to hold board meetings on Nov. 25, Samsung, SK and other conglomerates will announce their new appointments.

For Samsung, this year's reshuffle is the first time Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong has returned to management after being released on parole in August, seven months after the group's chief was imprisoned over bribery.

The focal point of Samsung Electronics' personnel reshuffle is whether the company will appoint new heads for its three business divisions.

Samsung, operating with three major pillars ― semiconductors, mobile phones and home appliances ― has been managed under a three-member representative system consisting of Vice Chairman and CEO Kim Ki-nam, CEO Koh Dong-jin and CEO Kim Hyun-suk since 2018.

Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, who is having a series of meetings in the U.S. regarding new business opportunities in biotech, mobile communications and emerging technologies such as virtual reality, is expected to show how he envisions the future of Samsung Electronics and Samsung Group through this personnel reshuffle.

Regarding the reshuffle of the executives, a Samsung official said "there's nothing to say about it because nothing has been decided yet."

SK Group is also forecast to implement its annual reshuffle of its executives in the first week of December.

SK Group has a system in which each board affiliate takes charge of key decisions, which is different from a top-down method in which high-ranking officials designate detailed goals for their affiliates.

Eyes are particularly on whether Chey Jae-won, the younger brother of SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, will return to management. Chey, who holds a 1.13-percent stake in SK Inc., the holding company of SK Group, was unable to work for the group due to the five-year employment ban rule here, but his restriction on not being able to hold a management position for five years was lifted last month.

The industry view is that Chairman Chey Tae-won may entrust his younger brother with the task of managing the group's core businesses, such as the electric car battery or fuel cell businesses, given that Chey Jae-won has paid great attention to the group's eco-friendly energy businesses.

"Nothing has been decided yet, but there is an expectation that Chey will be responsible for the group's businesses that SK considers to be new growth engines," an SK official said.

LG is also set to announce its personnel reshuffle at around Nov. 25.

Chairman Koo Kwang-mo has put more weight on generational change and innovation in the group, such as through expanding external recruitment and increasing the number of female executives during previous reshuffles.

What attracts the most attention in LG's reshuffle is who will succeed Kwon Young-soo, the second-in-command of LG and previously the vice chairman of LG Corp., the holding company of LG Group. In October, Kwon became the new vice chairman and CEO of the group's battery-making affiliate, LG Energy Solution.

Baek Byung-yeul

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