It was late in 2014 – and a scenario many business families fear.
Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee, the 72-year-old son of the company’s founder, had suffered a heart attack, leaving the family scrambling to address a leadership transition far sooner than expected.
One of the world’s largest companies – a $400 billion conglomerate including not just smartphones and electronics, but also shipbuilding, hotels and resorts, construction, advertising and even life insurance – suddenly faced questions about who would take over, steady the ship, and lead the company forward.
And this was no normal business family transition.
The Lee family would need to navigate its leadership change delicately. South Korean tradition dictates that no heir can take over the business until the patriarch has died. The problem? Kun-hee wasn’t dead, but his health problems left him incapacitated and unable to lead the company.
So slowly, re-writing the script as they went, the Lee family transitioned increased responsibilities to Kun-hee’s only son, Lee Jae-yong, who was appointed Vice Chairman of Samsung Electronics.
But that issue would soon pale in comparison to what came next.Read More