Samsung Life’s newly appointed CEO Jeon Young-muk.(Samsung Life Insurance)
South Korea’s largest conglomerate on Tuesday appointed new chief executives -- all in their 50s -- in an apparent move to tackle challenges in the fast digitalization of the capital market and diversify its business portfolio for sustainable growth.
Samsung Group’s insurance unit, Samsung Life, has appointed Jeon Young-muk as its new CEO. He has served as CEO of Samsung Asset Management since 2018.
Samsung Life vice presidents -- Kim Dae-hwan and Shim Jong-keug -- have been tapped to head Samsung Card and Samsung Asset Management, respectively.
Jeon, a Yonsei University graduate who got a master’s degree in management at the University of Pennsylvania, joined the insurance company in 1986, and led different teams, including finance assessment, investment and asset management divisions. After working as a management executive at Samsung Securities since 2015, he took the CEO post at Samsung Asset Management in 2018.
He is expected to bring his seasoned experience to the insurance unit, which faces falling profits and heated market competition. The company’s accumulated net profit until the third quarter last year dropped a whopping 43.4 percent to 976.8 billion won ($837.8 million) on-year.
Samsung Life is considered a key affiliate that keeps the controlling power of the founding Lee family. Samsung’s bedridden Chairman Lee Kun-hee owns 20.76 percent in the insurance firm-- with 8.51 percent in the conglomerate’s flagship tech giant Samsung Electronics. Chairman Lee’s son and Vice Chairman Jae-yong hold 17.2 percent in the construction arm Samsung C&T, which has a 19.34 percent stake in Samsung Life.
The insurance firm and construction units are two of the largest shareholders of the electronics giant with a combined 13.52 percent stake.
Samsung Card's newly appointed CEO Kim Dae-hwan(left) and Samsung Asset Management CEO appointee Shim Jong-keug. (Samsung Card, Samsung Asset Management)
Kim, head of Samsung Life’s management division, will take the helm of Samsung Card, succeeding the outgoing CEO Won Gee-chan,
Since joining Samsung Life in 1986, Kim moved up the corporate ladder to a vice president position in 2018. He also faces the daunting task of recouping deteriorating profits caused by falling credit card processing fees. As well as achieving digital transition, based on emerging technologies, including big data, remains as a daunting task for the credit card firm as well.
“The Samsung Card CEO appointee will likely speed up digital transformation with new business strategies and innovations, following suit of his predecessor who has driven the growth of the firm with diverse digital initiatives,” a Samsung Card official said.
The newly appointed Samsung Asset Management CEO Shim has been recognized as a seasoned asset management and financial marketing expert. He also worked his way up at Samsung Life since 1986.
Samsung Fire & Marine Insurance CEO Choi Young-moo and Samsung Securities CEO Chang Seok-hoon have retained their leadership roles. Choi will likely put focus on boosting the falling profits of Samsung Fire & Marine, which saw its net profit in the first three quarters plummet 35.1 percent to 585.9 billion won.
Each company will seek shareholder approval at a general meeting in March.
By Kim Young-won (email@example.com