Wed, Dec

Samsung Chairman Lee Dies Aged 78, Family Faces Battle Over Control

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The controversial yet legendary business titan who marshaled Samsung's rise from a modest South korean company to a multinational conglomerate died on Sunday at the age of 78. Following the death of Lee Kun-hee, Samsung's group chairman, speculation continue to mount that tech giant could be shaken up. Samsung in a statement confirming his death called him a "true visionary who transformed Samsung into the world-leading innovator and industrial powerhouse". "All of us at Samsung will cherish his memory and are grateful for the Journey we shared with him." the company said. Lee had been comatose since suffering a heart attack in 2014 but remained titular chairman of the company. Late Mr. Lee took over Samsung in 1987, and introduced radical measures which helped propel the company from a second-tier electronics manufacturer to an international tech giant and South Korea's biggest conglomerate.

Lee's father, Lee Byung-chul, created Samsung in the 1930s as a small trading company and steadily expanded into retail, electronics and other fields.

Mr Lee owned major stakes in the conglomerate's crown jewel Samsung electronics, as well as the holding company Samsung C&T, Samsung Life Insurance and Samsung SDS.

He was the richest person in South Korea, according to Forbes, with a net worth of nearly $21bn (£16bn).

Speculation over the future of Samsung following his death has stirred severe investor interest over various units of the conglomerate. Lee's powerful family faces a battle to maintain control of Samsung Group. Mr Lee is survived by his wife, Hong Ra-hee, his son Lee Jae-yong and his two daughters, Lee Boo-jin and Lee Seo-hyun. Each is already a billionaire in their own right.

Analysts say his heirs face billions in taxes from his share assets alone.

Lee's 52-year-old son, Lee Jae-yong, has been the company's de facto leader since his father's heart attack. Asked whether the vice chairman would take his father's title as chairman, Samsung declined to comment.

Lee Jae-yong has twice been accused of fraud over his role in a 2015 merger deal at the tech giant and is currently awaiting trial.

On Monday, shares in Samsung C & T surged by 21.2%, while Samsung Life Insurance rose 15.7%.