Vice Chairman Park Keun-hee of Samsung Life Insurance Co.
Vice Chairman Park Keun-hee of Samsung Life Insurance Co. will take charge of the company’s overseas operations personally from this year, as the overseas sector lags behind more than expected in his judgment since he took over the company’s management in 2010.
The company’s overseas strategy is to launch its operation in a foreign country in which it has a great chance for success, as there are great risks in overseas operations. The company will make up a list of countries in which it will operate based on strategies drawn up for these countries including direct investments and M&As.
Recently, the company named Vice President Stephan Lashorte, in charge of the overseas operations headquarters, a special assistant to the vice chairman in a measure to allow the vice chairman and CEO to take charge of the overseas operations himself. With the appointment, the company set up sections for India, Vietnam, and Indonesia in the overseas operations headquarters.
The company also appointed two officers at each of its overseas operation units to be fully responsible for their respective units.
Director Han Ick-jae has been named to take full charge of the Indonesian Group, while Director Han Su-han has been named to take full responsibility of managing the India Group, with the idea to strengthen the exploration of markets in those countries.
Vice Chairman Park intends to move fast to set up more operation groups in countries in Southeast Asia and in the emerging market countries around the world.
Samsung Life has also been providing more investment funds to its wholly-owned local subsidiaries in China and Thailand to expand their market shares and strengthen their operations in those countries. The company already injected 4 billion won into Siam Samsung in Thailand and plans to add 17.3 billion won more in the first half of this year. Samsung Life’s stake in the Thai joint-venture firm would rise to 66.4 percent from 49 percent when capital replenishment is completed this year.
The company also increased its investment in Chunghang Samsung, a joint-venture subsidiary with China Air in China, in the amount of 27.5 billion won last year with the Chinese partner putting up the same amount of funds to keep the partnership at 50:50. The joint-venture life insurance firm now has four branches in China and plans to add two more this year as the company’s annual growth averaged from 70 to 80 percent since its launching in 2007.
The vice chairman has been focusing on the expansion of the company’s overseas operations as he believes that the company has been somewhat negligent of its overseas businesses while relying too much on the domestic operation.
The company is tops in the country with assets totaling 172 trillion won, but its overseas earnings amounted to only 100 billion won or 0.3 percent its total annual income.
Insurance sources said the top management of the Samsung Group are said to have told the vice chairman to expand Samsung Life’s operations overseas, as its future growth depends on the global life insurance market.
But what has been holding back the company from a bold push overseas has been expenses to train financial consultants and other seed money to get the operation going.