Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, who transformed a second-tier electronics parts maker into the world’s biggest manufacturer of smartphones and televisions, died yesterday after lying incapacitated in a hospital for more than half a decade. He was 78 years old.
According to Reuters, Lee, who was 78, helped grow his father Lee Byung-chull’s noodle trading business into a sprawling powerhouse with assets worth some $375 billion, with dozens of affiliates stretching from electronics and insurance to shipbuilding and construction.
“Lee is such a symbolic figure in South Korea’s spectacular rise and how South Korea embraced globalisation, that his death will be remembered by so many Koreans,” chief executive officer of corporate researcher firm, Chaebul.com, Chung Sun Sup said.
He is the latest second-generation leader of a South Korean family-controlled conglomerate to die, leaving potentially thorny succession issues for the third generation.
Lee’s son Jay Y. Lee has been embroiled in legal troubles linked to a merger of two Samsung affiliates that helped Lee assume greater control of the group’s flagship Samsung Electronics.