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李在镕遭到拘留,三星集团没有备选领导者

财富中文网 2017年08月28日

投资者担忧,未来李在镕的缺席可能会导致决策缓慢,行动拖延,三星未来的发展无从保证。

据知情人士透露,假如三星集团(Samsung Group)实际上的领导者、亿万富翁李在镕因为腐败问题被判入狱,这家韩国重要的综合企业并没有备选的重大决策者。

现年49岁的李在镕自今年2月起便一直遭到拘留,他遭到指控的罪名包括盗用公款、在导致前总统朴槿惠下台的丑闻中作伪证等。

李在镕否认自己有不道德的行为。特检组提请对他判处有期徒刑12年,地方法院将在本周五进行判决。而他可能会对任何定罪提出上诉。

面对可能的领导层空缺,旗下包含全球领先的智能手机和芯片制造商、宾馆、保险公司的三星集团,并没有计划成立领导委员会或任命新的高管来推动战略,制定关键决策。

由于这家业务范围庞大的巨头相对较弱的一些企业正在计划重整或寻求新的增长点,这可能会带来隐患。

一位了解内情的人士表示:“现在没有人能对涉及整个集团的问题做出决策。某家三星的附属公司陷入麻烦,或是其他机构卷入纠纷,现在这不是不可能的。”考虑到情况的敏感性,这名人士要求匿名。

之前,三星可能会依靠其强大的企业战略办公室(Corporate Strategy Office)——也就是所谓的指挥台——来管理整个集团,进行有关资产出售或支持较弱附属公司的重大决策。

但是在今年2月,战略办公室因为在贪污丑闻中所扮演的角色而受到批评,之后,这一机构便被集团解散。附属公司的首席执行官每周三举行的会议也被暂停,导致三星的集中协作机制荡然无存。而李在镕的导师和指挥台的首脑崔志成也退休了。韩国反垄断监管机构的主管金相九在接受路透社(Reuters)采访时表示:“我认为三星在整个集团的效率管理上面临着很大的挑战……他们要挣扎一段时间,重新建立制定战略决策的流程。”

在一份回应路透社询问的声明中,三星表示:“企业战略办公室的任务是支持附属公司并让他们互相协作,包括调停业务重复和需求不同的问题,但是最终的商业决策取决于各公司自身。”

集团指出,他们已经宣布,每家附属公司都由对应的首席执行官和董事会独立领导。

“相当令人不安”

尽管李在镕的拘留似乎对三星电子没有产生什么影响——虽然其股价在过去半个月里下跌9%,创造历史纪录——但有迹象显示,此事对其他一些附属公司的未来前景产生了冲击。

韩国的金融监管机构本月以李在镕的审讯为由,推迟了对三星证券销售短期投资产品的申请的审核。这本是该公司扩大投资银行业服务的增长计划中的关键一环。

三星证券的一位女发言人表示:“现在的情况相当令人不安。”

自集团元老李健熙在2014年因心脏病入院治疗起,他的儿子李在镕便带领着集团进行重组。李在镕剥离了集团的非核心资产,给表现挣扎的三星工程注入了资金,并创造了一家实际上的控股公司,稳固了他的统治。

随着李在镕遭到拘留,这些进程也随之中止,他在庭审时表示自己超过90%的时间都用于经营三星电子。

三星的内部人士表示,如果李在镕被判处徒刑,三星不太可能像SK集团一样操作。后者是一家电信和能源公司,在董事长崔泰源入狱期间依靠“超然”的集团领导委员会来经营。这一委员会在2013年至2015年期间带领着集团进行了首席执行官级别的重组,直到崔泰源在一次总统特赦后返回岗位。

三星附属公司的一位官员表示:“我不认为三星会有这样的委员会。这看起来就像企业战略办公室回归了,而它才刚刚解散。”

熟知内情的人士还表示,三星附属的Hotel Shilla Co的首席执行官李富真不太可能接替她哥哥,负责三星电子或是整个集团的工作。

另一家三星附属公司的官员称:“继承人掌管的业务范围相当固定。之前已有的上报和决策流程没那么容易改变。”他补充道,李富真专注于宾馆和免税店的运营,而李在镕负责科技业务。

动作缓慢

一些投资者担忧,未来李在镕的缺席可能会导致决策缓慢,行动拖延,三星未来的发展无从保证。

例如,三星电子去年宣布达成了六起并购,包括以80亿美元收购美国联网汽车和音频系统的制造商哈曼(Harman)。

而今年,还没有一次并购达成。

研究公司CEO Score的总裁朴俊根表示:“李在镕掌权期间,三星的重大战略改变之一,在于提高三星电子在半导体之外B2B(公司对公司业务)的能力。”

“把所有部门变成B2B的类型需要很长的时间,在此期间李在镕被拘留了。这对大方向产生了干扰,也让公司更难下定决心进行大规模的并购。”

一名位于首尔、投资了三星附属公司的基金经理表示,所有三星的公司都会照常运作,“但是大型并购和影响长期战略的决策……可能会难以实施。”

这位基金经理并未获得在媒体发言的授权,因此要求匿名,他表示:“我们还没有改变投资的计划。”

“如果李在镕接受了裁定,结束了拘留,投资者当天肯定情绪糟糕,不过我认为不会有任何持续影响。”(财富中文网)

译者:严匡正

Samsung Group, South Korea's leading conglomerate, has no 'Plan B' for taking big decisions if its billionaire de facto leader Jay Y. Lee is jailed for corruption, people familiar with the matter said.

Lee, 49, has been in detention since February, on trial for charges ranging from embezzlement to perjury in a scandal that prompted the ouster of the country's ex-president Park Geun-hye.

He denies wrongdoing, and a lower court will give its verdict on Friday, with prosecutors demanding a 12-year jail term. He would likely appeal any conviction.

Facing a possible leadership vacuum, Samsung Group - whose businesses range from the world's leading smartphone and chip maker to hotels and insurance - has no plans to set up a leadership committee or a new executive role to drive strategy and take key decisions.

That could be a risk as some of the sprawling conglomerate's weaker businesses go through a turnaround plan or look for fresh growth drivers.

"There's no one right now who'll decide on group-wide issues," said a person with direct knowledge of the matter, who asked not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue. "It's not impossible to imagine a scenario where a Samsung affiliate gets into trouble and other units become entangled."

Previously, Samsung would have resorted to its powerful Corporate Strategy Office - dubbed the control tower - that oversaw the group, orchestrated the big decisions on asset sales or arranged support for weakened affiliates.

But Samsung disbanded that office in February after it was criticized for its role in the graft scandal. It also suspended its weekly "Wednesday CEO meetings" of affiliate firms, leaving no centralized coordination. And Choi Gee-sung, Lee's mentor and head of the control tower, stepped down."I think Samsung faces major challenges in efficiently managing the entire group ... it will struggle for a while to re-establish a strategic decision making process," Kim Sang-jo, South Korea's new antitrust chief, told Reuters.

In a statement in response to Reuters queries, Samsung said: "The Corporate Strategy Office's role was to support affiliates and coordinate with them, including mediating overlapping businesses and (their) different interests, but the final business decision was made by each company."

It noted the group had already announced that management at each affiliate would be led independently by their respective CEOs and boards.

"Rather Disconcerting"

While Lee's detention appears to have had little impact at Samsung Electronics - though its share price has dropped 9 percent from a record high in the past month - there are signs that future prospects for some businesses are being impacted.

South Korea's financial regulators this month cited the Lee trial when it delayed a review on Samsung Securities' request to be allowed to sell short-term investment products - a key plank in the company's growth plan to expand its investment banking services.

"The current situation is rather disconcerting," said a spokeswoman for Samsung Securities.

Since group patriarch Lee Kun-hee was hospitalized following a heart attack in 2014, his son Jay Y. has led a restructuring - shedding non-core assets, mulling a capital injection for struggling Samsung Engineering, and creating a de facto holding company that tightened his grip.

The process has stalled this year with his detention - he said at his trial that he spends more than 90 percent of his time running Samsung Electronics.

Samsung insiders say the group is unlikely - if Lee goes to jail - to follow the example of SK, a telecoms-to-energy conglomerate, which relied on a "Supex" group leadership committee when its chairman Chey Tae-won was jailed. That group led CEO-level reshuffles in 2013-15 until Chey returned after a presidential pardon.

"I don't think (such) a management committee is likely. It would look as though the Corporate Strategy Office has returned, just after it was disbanded," one Samsung affiliate official said.

And nor is Lee Boo-jin, CEO of affiliate Hotel Shilla Co, expected to step up to fill her brother's role at Samsung Electronics or group-wide, people with knowledge of the matter said.

"The business division between the heirs is rather set," said an official at another Samsung affiliate. "The pre-set flow of reporting up and decision-making will not change easily," the person added, noting Lee Boo-jin's focus on hotel and duty-free operations and Jay Y. Lee's control of technology units.

Slow moving

For some investors, the worry is that any extended absence of Lee could slow decision making and delay moves that are needed to secure future growth.

Samsung Electronics, for example, announced six M&A deals last year, including buying Harman, a U.S. maker of connected car and audio systems, for $8 billion.

This year, there have been none.

"A big strategic change under Jay Y. Lee was to strengthen Samsung Electronics' B2B (business-to-business) portfolio besides semiconductors," said Park Ju-gun, head of research firm CEO Score.

"They were in the long-term process of changing all divisions into B2B, when Lee was detained. This could throw a spanner in its macro direction, and make it more difficult to decide on large-scale M&A."

A Seoul-based fund manager, who has invested in Samsung affiliates, said all Samsung businesses would be able to carry out their operations as usual, "but large M&A deals and decisions affecting long-term strategy ... will be difficult."

"We don't plan shifts in investment on this," said the fund manager, who is not authorized to speak to the media, so asked not to be identified.

"If Lee receives a ruling that finalizes his detention, of course investor sentiment will be bad on the day, but I don't expect any lasting effect."

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