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Samsung boss commences complicated succession plans

Daddy Lee very slowly hands the keys to Lee Jr

Samsung's ailing chairman has started handing over responsibility for some of the company's key assets to his son, in what looks to be part of a complicated succession process.

The 73-year-old Lee Kun-hee has not fully recovered after suffering a heart attack in May last year.

His son, Lee Jae-yong, is understood to have already become unofficial chairman since his father's hospitalisation. He is currently vice chairman of Samsung Electronics.

On Friday, it was announced Lee Jae-yong had inherited the chairmanship of two charitable bodies and investment vehicles from his father: Samsung Life Public Welfare Foundation and the Samsung Foundation of Culture.

"A key point in the succession process is controlling the foundations, because they hold stakes in key Samsung Group companies," Park Ju-gun, head of corporate watchdog CEO Score told Reuters.

"I think it's safe to say that the succession process is near a final stage," he added.

According the The Financial Times, the foundations are a significant part of Samsung's shareholding structure that binds together its 74 businesses.

Their holdings include a combined 6.9 per cent stake in Samsung Life Insurance, which in turn owns 7.6 per cent of group flagship Samsung Electronics, it said.

In 2009, Lee Kun-hee was found guilty of abuse of trust over a dodgy bond issue, was fined $89.2 million (£57 million) and received a suspended prison sentence. In 2010 he received a presidential pardon. ®

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