South Korea’s LG Group chairman dies from illness at 73

LG Group chairman Koo Bon-moo meets US President Barack Obama (not pictured) as they attend the groundbreaking of a factory for Compact Power Inc. in Holland, Michigan, US. (Reuters)
Updated 20 May 2018
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South Korea’s LG Group chairman dies from illness at 73

  • The chairman of South Korea’s LG Group, Koo Bon-moo, passed away on Sunday after a year-long battle with brain disease
  • Prior to its chairman’s death, LG Group had established a holding company in order to streamline ownership structure and begin the process of succession

SEOUL: The chairman of South Korea’s LG Group, Koo Bon-moo, instrumental to transforming the country’s fourth-largest conglomerate into a global brand, passed away on Sunday after a year-long battle with brain disease.
LG Group said in a statement Koo, 73, had been ill for a year.
A group official said Koo had been fighting a brain disease and had undergone surgery. The official declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.
“Becoming the third chairman of LG at the age of 50 in 1995, Koo established key three businesses — electronics, chemicals and telecommunications — led a global company LG, and contributed to driving (South Korea’s) industrial competitiveness and national economic development,” LG said.
Under Koo’s leadership, the conglomerate changed its corporate brand to LG from Lucky Goldstar and sold LG’s semiconductor business to Hyundai, now SK Hynix Inc, under government-led restructuring in the wake of the Asia financial crisis in the late 1990s.
Major affiliates are LG Electronics Inc, display maker LG Display and electric car battery maker LG Chem.
Prior to its chairman’s death, LG Group had established a holding company in order to streamline ownership structure and begin the process of succession.
The country’s powerful family-run conglomerates are implementing generational succession amid growing calls from the government and public to improve transparency and corporate governance.
LG Corp, a holding company of the electronics-to-chemicals conglomerate, said on Thursday its longtime chairman was unwell and planned to nominate his son to its board of directors in preparation for a leadership succession.
Heir apparent Koo Kwang-mo is from the fourth generation of LG Group’s controlling family. He owns 6 percent of LG Corp. and works as a senior official at LG Electronics.
The senior Koo’s younger brother, the group’s vice chairman Koo Bon-joon, who led LG Electronics for many years, effectively managed the conglomerate in his stead.
South Korean prosecutors said this month they raided LG Group’s head office as part of a probe into alleged tax evasion by family members controlling the conglomerate.
Analyst do not see a change at the helm being disruptive to the group’s business.
“Although Koo passed away at a relatively early age, his son has been already in a senior position and I don’t think there will be a big change in governance structure or strategic decisions,” said Park Ju-gun, head of corporate analysis firm CEO Score.
The company said Koo’s funeral would be held privately at the request of the family.


‘Don’t be too optimistic’: Huawei employees fret at US ban

Updated 26 May 2019
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‘Don’t be too optimistic’: Huawei employees fret at US ban

  • This week Google, whose Android operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said it would cut ties with Huawei
  • Another critical partner, ARM Holdings, said it was complying with the US restrictions

BEIJING: While Huawei’s founder brushes aside a US ban against his company, the telecom giant’s employees have been less sanguine, confessing fears for their future in online chat rooms.
Huawei CEO Ren Zhengfei declared this week the company has a hoard of microchips and the ability to make its own in order to withstand a potentially crippling US ban on using American components and software in its products.
“If you really want to know what’s going on with us, you can visit our Xinsheng Community,” Ren told Chinese media, alluding to Huawei’s internal forum partially open to viewers outside the company.
But a peek into Xinsheng shows his words have not reassured everyone within the Shenzhen-based company.
“During difficult times, what should we do as individuals?” posted an employee under the handle Xiao Feng on Thursday.
“At home reduce your debts and maintain enough cash,” Xiao Feng wrote.
“Make a plan for your financial assets and don’t be overly optimistic about your remuneration and income.”
This week Google, whose Android operating system powers most of the world’s smartphones, said it would cut ties with Huawei as a result of the ban.
Another critical partner, ARM Holdings — a British designer of semiconductors owned by Japanese group Softbank — said it was complying with the US restrictions.
“On its own Huawei can’t resolve this problem, we need to seek support from government policy,” one unnamed employee wrote last week, in a post that received dozens of likes and replies.
The employee outlined a plan for China to block off its smartphone market from all American components much in the same way Beijing fostered its Internet tech giants behind a “Great Firewall” that keeps out Google, Facebook, Twitter and dozens of other foreign companies.
“Our domestic market is big enough, we can use this opportunity to build up domestic suppliers and our ecosystem,” the employee wrote.
For his part, Ren advocated the opposite response in his interview with Chinese media.
“We should not promote populism; populism is detrimental to the country,” he said, noting that his family uses Apple products.
Other employees strategized ways to circumvent the US ban.
One advocated turning to Alibaba’s e-commerce platform Taobao to buy the needed components. Another dangled the prospect of setting up dozens of new companies to make purchases from US suppliers.
Many denounced the US and proposed China ban McDonald’s, Coca-Cola and all-American movies and TV shows.
“First time posting under my real name: we must do our jobs well, advance and retreat with our company,” said an employee named Xu Jin.
The tech ban caps months of US effort to isolate Huawei, whose equipment Washington fears could be used as a Trojan horse by Chinese intelligence services.
Still, last week Trump indicated he was willing to include a fix for Huawei in a trade deal that the two economic giants have struggled to seal and US officials issued a 90-day reprieve on the ban.
In Xinsheng, an employee with the handle Youxin lamented: “I want to advance and retreat alongside the company, but then my boss told me to pack up and go,” followed by two sad-face emoticons.