Sunday, January 21, 2007

Korean Big Business Promotions Draw Public and Media Attention

Visitors to this Blog will find several topics surface frequently. Family control of Korea's top conglomerates is a topic I follow closely. At times, this is not so much as a study of the Korean management model, but a study of how Korean media and the public dwells on the family leadership of its top business groups. An example is this Korea Herald article on the new roles heirs to Korea's top groups are assuming within the respective organizations.

Korea Herald notes,
The promotion of Lee Jay-yong, the only son of Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee, to chief customer officer at Samsung Electronics Co. last Friday has rekindled public and corporate interest in the children of the nation's biggest industrialists.

Lee, 39, is one of the "second- and third-generation" executives who have been taking on increasingly important management roles in companies founded by their families, including Samsung, Hyundai, Shinsegae and Korean Air.

The promotion of Lee Jay-yong had been largely anticipated after he departed from his usual low-profile activity during the recent International Consumer Electronics Show, held in Las Vegas earlier this month.

Just two days after Lee was promoted to senior vice president of Samsung Electronics in Samsung's annual management reshuffle, Lee was given another bigger role, CCO, which analysts said will require broader management skills and involve network-building with foreign investors and partners.

As the CCO, Lee's executive authority could go beyond decisions made by presidents of Samsung Electronics' four major business units including semiconductors, telecommunication network, liquid crystal displays and digital media, officials at Samsung said.

Chung Eui-sun, the son of Korea's largest carmaker Hyundai Automotive Group chairman Chung Mong-koo, has already built a strong position within the group, having lead Hyundai's affiliate Kia Motors since 2005 and managed Hyundai-Kia's overseas sales headquarters and plant-building projects.

The 37-year-old Chung's focus is on directing ongoing construction of the carmaker's factories, from the Czech Republic and Slovakia in Eastern Europe, to China and Georgia in the United States.

Chung Yong-jin, 39, the son of retail giant Shinsegae chairman Lee Myeong-hee, was promoted to vice chairman late last year, a move industry watchers interpreted as a step closer to taking control of the conglomerate.

He became the No. 2 shareholder of Shinsegae after receiving the shares of his father Chung Jae-un and paying 350 billion won in gift tax last September. Chung was the child of one of Korea's biggest tycoons, whose stock value surpassed 1 trillion won as of Dec. 13, according to the Financial Supervisory Service data.

Heather Cho, 33, the eldest daughter of Korean Air's chairman Cho Yang-ho, attended her first press conference at the at the International Flight Services Association (IFSA) Best Chef Competition held in Jeju last year. Soon after, she got promoted to managing vice president of in-flight service and catering.

Chung Ji-yi, 30, the eldest daughter of Hyundai Group chairwoman Hyun Jeong-eun, was promoted to managing director of Hyundai Ubiquitous & Information (U&I) Technology, an IT service unit of the group, late last year.

Group officials say Chung, whose father is the late Hyundai Group chairman Chung Mong-hun, is considered the potential Hyundai Group heir because she is in a good position to observe the group's internal operations serving as planning chief and managing director.

Korean tycoons' direct transfer of management to their sons and daughters is nothing new, but the latest personnel shuffles, carried out just before and after the New Year, is drawing some criticism.

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