Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong travels to Canada and the US… First foreign trip after parole
“I will visit Boston” Moderna expects to focus on securing ‘consignment volume of vaccines’
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong went on a business trip to Canada and the United States on the 14th. This is the first overseas trip since his parole in August. As the reason for his parole was to invest in semiconductors and secure a vaccine against COVID-19, Vice Chairman Lee decided on a site for a Samsung Electronics semiconductor factory worth US$17 billion (about 20 trillion won) to invest in the United States during this business trip, and Samsung Biologics secured a vaccine from Moderna. It is expected to focus on securing consignment production volumes.
Vice Chairman Lee departed for Toronto, Canada via a chartered flight from the Gimpo Business Aviation Center in Gangseo-gu, Seoul on the morning of the same day. Vice Chairman Lee, who entered the departure hall wearing sneakers without a tie at around 7:46 a.m., replied only, “I plan to meet several US partners” to a reporter’s question, “Do you decide to make a new investment in a US foundry (system semiconductor consignment production)?” . When asked if he would meet Moderna officials, he said, “I think I will go to Boston (where Moderna is headquartered).”
Vice Chairman Lee will first visit Samsung Electronics’ Artificial Intelligence (AI) Research Center in Toronto, Canada. After that, it is known that he will go to the United States to look at candidate sites for a new foundry plant and make an investment decision.
Kim Ki-nam, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, accompanied the Korea-US summit in May and announced plans to invest $17 billion in the US. Since then, Samsung Electronics is reviewing new foundry plant sites in Texas, Arizona, and New York. The site for the new plant is said to be likely in Austin, Texas, where it already operates a foundry plant, or Taylor, a 30-minute drive from Austin.
In the business world, Vice Chairman Lee is expected to meet with semiconductor customers and partners in the US, such as Apple, Intel, Qualcomm, and Nvidia, as well as major US business figures. This is to restore the human network that has been estranged from visiting the United States after the Gukjeong Nongdan incident. It is expected that they will meet with people related to the semiconductor data submitted by Samsung Electronics at the request of the US government.
Vice Chairman Lee is also expected to meet with Moderna officials and strengthen the relationship so that they can continuously secure Moderna vaccines. After being released from parole, Vice Chairman Lee focused on securing the Moderna vaccine, and the Moderna vaccine produced by Samsung Biologics has been supplied to Korea since last month.
Vice Chairman Lee’s overseas business trip will be the first in 13 months since his visit to Vietnam in late October last year. It is the first time in five years since attending the Sun Valley Conference in July 2016 on a business trip to the United States.
After his parole, Vice Chairman Lee has been participating in the trial on the Samsung C&T merger and Samsung Biologics allegation of accounting fraud every Thursday after his parole.
The Ministry of Justice recently granted a business trip to Vice Chairman Lee, who is on parole. As President Moon Jae-in ordered a role in semiconductors and supply and demand for COVID-19 vaccines when Vice Chairman Lee came out on parole in August, it is understood that Vice Chairman Lee also planned a business trip to match the purpose of his parole.
In the industry, some point out that Vice Chairman Lee’s business activities after parole violated the ’employment restriction’ clause. In particular, the controversy over the Ministry of Justice’s permission to conduct an active business trip to North America is likely to continue.