Samsung’s Lee likely to retain seat

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Samsung’s Lee likely to retain seat

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee has been recommended to continue working as an outside director of Exor, the controlling shareholder of Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), the world’s seventh-largest carmaker.

According to Exor on Wednesday, the 47-year-old was recommended as an outside director of the Italian investment company along with other global business leaders, including Antonio Horta Osorio, CEO of Lloyds Banking Group of the United Kingdom. Lee will work with 14 outside directors for three years if the appointment is approved.

Lee started building a relationship with Exor in 2010, when FCA Group Chairman John Elkann visited Samsung Electronics’ office in Seocho District, southern Seoul. Elkann is a son of FCA founder Gianni Agnelli’s daughter. Lee is the son of Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee. Two years later, Elkann suggested to Lee that he be an outside director. Lee agreed and started in May, becoming a member of Exor’s Strategic Committee, consisting of six members and led by Elkann.

According to Exor, Lee attended all committee meetings his first year as an outside director, but only 40 percent of meetings in 2013, when he was promoted at Samsung Electronics. He participated in only 14.3 percent of meetings last year, as he had to deal with more businesses on behalf of his father, who is in ill health.

“Lee has been trying hard not to miss meetings at Exor, as he was very attached to the job,” said a Samsung spokesman.

As Lee is expected to maintain his close relationship with Exor, industry insiders say Samsung’s recent efforts to expand its car parts business will likely accelerate. Samsung SDI currently supplies batteries for BMW’s i3 electric vehicle and i8 plug-in hybrid sport coupe, and is associated with other automakers, including FCA, Volkswagen, Audi, Porsche and Ford. Samsung Electro-Mechanics, which owns a 22 percent stake of Samsung Electronics, also is considering launching an auto parts business.

In August last year, Samsung SDI started building a battery plant in Xi’an, China, that will produce about 40,000 batteries for electric vehicles per year. According to car market research firm B3 Intelligence, worldwide sales of electric vehicles will increase by 30 percent a year. It said sales will surpass 6.78 million units this year and more than 10 million in 2020.

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