Samsung’s Lee meets Chinese business heads

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Samsung’s Lee meets Chinese business heads


Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, center, looks around a Xiaomi store in Shenzhen, China, during his business trip. [YONHAP]

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong met with tech leaders in China during his business trip to Shenzhen, according to a Samsung source Friday.

According to a source from the Korean electronics giant, Lee met with BYD Chairman Wang Chuanfu, Huawei Technologies CEO Ren Zhengfei, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun and BBK Electronics CEO Tony Chen to expand ties with Chinese partners as Samsung looks to emerging industries, such as electronic cars, as potential future growth engines.

BYD is one of the world’s largest electric car and car battery makers. Huawei, Xiaomi and BBK Electronics’ OPPO and Vivo are fast-growing Chinese smartphone manufacturers. They already have a dominant presence in China’s phone market as well as in emerging economies like India.

Details of the meeting and its results are yet to be disclosed.

Lee was also spotted in Xiaomi and Samsung retail shops in China, according to multiple reports from Chinese local media and the country’s famed social networking platform Weibo. Lee was accompanied by Kim Ki-nam, the head of Samsung’s device solution division. Industry insiders speculate Lee’s visits to two stores are related to sluggish sales of Samsung’s Galaxy smartphone lineup compared to local brands and its American rival Apple.

According to data from market tracker Strategy Analytics, Samsung’s share in the Chinese smartphone market was less than 1 percent in the fourth quarter last year. In the tentative report, the analyst firm expected the company to ink around 1.7 percent market share, but the reality belied expectations. Unlike Samsung, local brands like Huawei, OPPO and Vivo boasted more than 15 percent market share each during the same quarter.

The Chinese market has proven tough for the Korean electronics giant as it is sandwiched between Apple in the premium segment and fast-growing Chinese phone makers that can offer lower prices.

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