The Korea Herald


Who will chair boards at Samsung, Hyundai Motor?

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : Feb. 17, 2020 - 15:22

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Attention is turning to who will replace the leadership on the boards of Korea’s tech and automobile behemoths -- Samsung Electronics and Hyundai Motor -- at the upcoming general shareholders meetings in March.

On Friday, Lee Sang-hoon, chairman of Samsung Electronics’ board, resigned from his role after being found guilty of sabotaging labor unit activities. Lee was sentenced to 18 months in jail in December upon conviction of violating labor union-related laws.

On his resignation, Samsung’s board of directors will soon elect a chairperson through a resolution.

Currently, there are nine board members, including three internal directors -- chief executives Kim Ki-nam, Kim Hyun-suk and Koh Dong-Jin -- and six outside directors. Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong retired after his term expired on Oct. 26 last year.

The likelihood is low that one of the chief executives will chair the board, as the tech giant declared its board-centered management in March 2018 that separates the positions of board chairperson and CEOs.

Rumor has it that former Labor Minister Park Jae-wan is a likely candidate. Park is now an outside director, serving as a chairman of the governance and audit committees. He is expected to remain an outside director until 2022, as he was reappointed last year.

“Whether the chair will be elected from within the board, or a new member of the board will be appointed as the chair, will be decided by the upcoming board of directors,” said an industry source.

As for Hyundai Motor, the term in office of Chairman Chung Mong-koo as an internal director will expire on March 16.

Chung has been the chair of the board since March 1999, spearheading the group as a global automaker. However, since 2018, he has been stepping away from day-to-day management and not attending board meetings.

Chung’s reappointment will be discussed at a meeting of Hyundai’s board of directors on Wednesday and will be finalized at a general shareholders meeting held in the middle of next month.

If his retirement is confirmed, his son Chung Euisun is expected to take over as a board chair.

Chung Euisun has been the de facto leader of the group since he was promoted to executive vice chairman in September 2018, nine years after he was named vice chairman in 2009.

He was also appointed chief executive of Hyundai Motor and Hyundai Mobis – the de facto holding firm of the automotive group -- at last year’s shareholders meeting.

The automaker said, “Although Chairman Chung’s term of office is due to expire on March 16, the schedule and agenda of the board of directors and shareholders are not fixed yet.”

By Shin Ji-hye (