Samsung Group chief moving, but still unconscious

Samsung Group chief moving, but still unconscious
Lee Kun-hee

Samsung Group said Tuesday that chairman Lee Kun-hee's health is improving, but he remains unconscious.

He was able to move his hands and feet a little, and open his eyes for seven to eight hours, a group spokeswoman said, citing Samsung Medical Center's official announcement regarding the chairman's progress.

"The chairman is recovering, but it is difficult to say that he has gained consciousness," she said. Lee Kun-hee

The 72-year-old Samsung boss has been in the hospital for a month since he had a heart attack and underwent a stent treatment procedure for his arteries.

He was first treated at a hospital near his home, then moved to an intensive care unit in the Samsung hospital for further emergency treatment.

Currently, the hospital said the chairman is stable and resting in a general VIP room, adding that it will "not rush," but proceed with a stable conscious sedation procedure for Lee. The chairman first opened his eyes late last month when his family made noise while watching a Samsung Lions baseball game on television.

With the chairman in the hospital, Korea's largest conglomerate has been rapidly pushing forward with restructuring its key units, including planning an initial public offering of Samsung Everland, in line with Lee's succession for his three children. Everland is Korea's largest theme park with businesses in resorts, fashion, food and construction, and is the de facto holding company of the group. Lee's son Jay-yong is the company's biggest shareholder.

"The Everland IPO can be seen as part of undergoing a leadership transition from Lee to vice chairman Lee Jay-yong, with many (Samsung employees) also recognising this link and accepting (the reality) that the vice chairman will soon take over the group," said a Samsung source, on condition of anonymity.

Various scenarios are being drawn in the brokerage sector regarding the future of Samsung following the IPO announcement. Some analysts forecast that Samsung Electronics or Samsung C&T will merge with Everland after the companies are split up for the establishment of a holding company.

But others said Samsung may not seek to further untangle its complex web of cross-shareholdings and form a holding company due to mounting costs involved in the process.

The Samsung spokeswoman said, "The group is fully aware of such market scenarios, but does not have any official comments regarding its equity restructuring."

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