Samsung: Family Assets and Roadblocks (B) - Heart Attack Puts Succession Planning at Risk
This three-part case covers the history of Samsung from its origins as a small trucking company to one of Korea's largest conglomerates. Part A, "Drivers of Success, Family Assets and Business Strategy", charts the growth of Korea's the export-led economy after the end of Japanese occupation in 1945, driven by a handful of family-owned 'chaebols'. Founder Lee Byung-chull's trucking business, set up in 1938, diversified in the aftermath of the Korean War, as he forged a strong political network that enabled him to embed his family's influence and assets in the business strategy. Part B, "Heart Attack Puts Succession Planning at Risk", describes how the ill health of the second-generation leader Lee Kun-hee deprived the firm of a clear succession plan. As the de facto leader of Samsung, his son had to build up his power base to assume the role in the context of a complex ownership structure. Part C, "Court calls time out on Lee Jae-yong", examines how the de facto heir was convicted of bribery and given a five-year prison sentence, prompting speculation that he would run the Samsung empire from his cell.