Lee Kun Hee, the second-generation chairman of Samsung Electronics, became South Korea's richest man in terms of stock ownership after the listing of Samsung Life Insurance Co last week.
Based on the closing price after the IPO, stocks owned by Lee were valued at $10.71 billion making him the country's richest man, according the Chaebul.com, a specialist website that collates information on the country's family-owned conglomerates.
The news follows a busy week for Samsung, which announced plans to invest $21 billion in business diversification over the next 10 years. The new areas of investment include solar cells, technology for hybrid electric vehicles and biopharmaceuticals and medical devices.
The investment plan is intended to give Samsung an edge by investing in future growth areas, as Lee (pictured) explained. "Governments around the world are now investing in green industries to address the issues of depleting energy resources and the protection of our planet's environment, which present pressing challenges to the global community," he said. "When other global companies hesitate, we must move ahead decisively to take this opportunity, and this will also benefit the country's economy.
"The mission of any business is to contribute to people's health and quality of life," Lee concluded.
Lee became chairman of Samsung Electronics, a subsidiary of the Samsung Group, in March 2010 warning of a "real crisis" if the business did not "have a new start and seize the opportunity" (continue reading here).
The family patriarch was forced to step down as chairman of the Samsung Group in 2008 following a conviction for tax evasion, however he was officially pardoned in December 2009 by the South Korean president. (Continue reading here)
Samsung was founded in 1938 and led by Lee, who joined the family business in 1987, for over 20 years. Today, the Samsung Group has revenues of $90 billion, is the world's largest maker of memory chips and the world's second-largest mobile phone handset maker. Lee's son Lee Jae Yong also works in the family business and was promoted to executive vice president and chief operating officer of Samsung Electronics in December 2009. (Continue reading here)
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