Lucky scions look ahead

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Lucky scions look ahead

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As 2016 is the Year of the Monkey according to the Chinese zodiac, tycoons born in a year of the monkey are drawing special attention.

A number of high-profile scions of big conglomerates happen to fall in the category, including Jay Y. Lee of Samsung Group and Chung Yong-jin of Shinsegae.

Born in 1968, Lee of Samsung is expected to continue to take the lead at the country’s biggest conglomerate as vice chairman of Samsung Electronics while his father, Chairman Lee Kun-hee, is hospitalized.

Among the most urgent issues he faces is turning around troubled affiliates such as Samsung Engineering and Samsung Heavy Industries.

For Samsung, 2015 can be summarized as a year that cemented the junior Lee’s power at Samsung.

The 47-year-old was appointed chief director of Samsung’s two cultural and charity foundations in May, replacing the patriarch. The merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries was also considered a maneuver to throw more weight behind the vice chairman, making him the largest shareholder of the combined unit.

Another important development in 2015 was Lee’s first public appearance to apologize for Samsung Medical Center’s response to the outbreak of Middle East respiratory syndrome.

This year the company will be focused on strengthening targeted businesses such as biopharmaceuticals, electric car batteries and components for autonomous cars.

Another conglomerate heir who was born in the year of the monkey is Chung Yong-jin, vice chairman of Shinsegae Group. Chung, who went to the same high school as Lee, will have to handle a retail business that includes a big discount chain, department store and duty-free shop amid unfavorable economic conditions.

His major task in 2016 is to successfully open a new duty-free shop in central Seoul. Shinsegae Group won the rights to run a new tax-exempt outlet in November.

In setting up the store, Chung vowed to contribute to the local tourism industry.

As for E-Mart, Chung seeks to break into overseas countries to find fresh sources of revenue. The supermarket’s entry into Vietnam in December was part of efforts to bolster its presence abroad.

Other business tycoons born in 1968 include Cho Hyun-joon, president of Hyosung Group, President Lee Woo-hyun of OCI and GS Energy Vice President Huh Yong-soo.

Huh recently increased his clout at the energy affiliate and is the second-largest shareholder of the group.

While these younger executives in their mid-40s are increasingly making their mark on the business scene, the older generation born in the previous year of the monkey are going strong.

Among them is Lee Woong-yeul, chairman of Kolon Group, and Lee Man-deuk, chairman of Samchully, a city gas distributor.

The youngest corporate head born in the year of the monkey is 35-year-old Rim Ji-hoon, CEO of Kakao.


BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]




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