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Samsung vice chair calls for focus on plan to invest, hire

June 03,2019
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong has pledged to maintain the company’s focus on huge investments and a massive hiring spree.

“Plans announced last year to invest 180 trillion won [$151.39 billion] and hire 40,000 new staff should be conducted unwaveringly so that we can create more jobs and contribute to our economy,” he said to Samsung affiliate CEOs during an internal meeting on Saturday at the headquarters of Samsung Electronics in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi.

Lee also mentioned the tech company’s more recently announced plan in April to invest 133 trillion won in its non-memory chip business and urged top executives to ensure it is executed without delay.

“We should not be wavered by short-term opportunities and performance. In a rapidly changing environment, the core value Samsung should hold on to is securing a competitive edge in fundamental technology for the long run,” he said. “The core factor that enabled the company to keep up innovation was constant investment for the future that was unstopped even in difficult times.”

The session was organized to discuss measures for Samsung to overcome uncertainties globally, Samsung Electronics said in a press release Sunday.

For Samsung, which tends to comment sparingly on the founding family, the release of Sunday’s statement that directly quoted Lee in an internal meeting was unusual.

The comments come at a tense time. Business-wise, the performance of Samsung Electronics has been weak this year compared to 2018, when it consecutively broke quarterly records during a memory chip boom. First quarter operating profits hit the lowest level since the fall of 2016. With memory chip prices falling steadily this year, forecasts remain uncertain.

The challenges for Lee are more than just business related.

Prosecutors are vigorously investigating Samsung BioLogics for possible accounting fraud, which civic groups and some lawmakers contend played a crucial role in Lee’s gaining of leadership. Last month, the prosecution expanded the scope of investigation to include Samsung Electronics.

Local media interpret the Saturday meeting as Lee sending a message that he is firmly in control despite the troubles and encouraging executives to concentrate on the original plan.

BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]