Lee Kun-Hee, the ailing Samsung Electronics chairman who transformed the small television maker into a global giant of consumer electronics but whose leadership was also marred by corruption convictions, died on Sunday. He was 78.
Lee died with his family members by his side, including his only son and Samsung Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the company said in a statement.
Samsung didn’t announce the cause of death, but Lee had been hospitalized since May 2014 after suffering a heart attack and the younger Lee has been running Samsung, South Korea’s biggest company.
“All of us at Samsung will cherish his memory and are grateful for the journey we shared with him,” the Samsung statement said. “His legacy will be everlasting.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in sent senior presidential officials to pass a condolence message to Lee’s family at a mourning site. In the message, Moon called the late tycoon “a symbol of South Korea’s business world whose leadership would provide courage to our companies” at a time of economic difficulties caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Moon’s office said.
Lee’s family said the funeral would be private but did not immediately release details.
Lee inherited control of the company from his father, and during his nearly 30 years of leadership, Samsung Electronics Co. became a global brand and the world’s largest maker of smartphones, televisions and memory chips. Samsung sells Galaxy phones while also making the screens and microchips that power its major rivals — Apple’s iPhones and Google Android phones.
Its businesses encompass shipbuilding, life insurance, construction, hotels, amusement parks and more. Samsung Electronics alone accounts for 20% of the market capital on South Korea’s main stock exchange.
Lee leaves behind immense wealth, with Forbes estimating his fortune at $16 billion as of January 2017.
His death comes during a complex time for Samsung.
When he was hospitalized, Samsung’s once-lucrative mobile business faced threats from upstart makers in China and elsewhere. Pressure was high to innovate its traditionally strong hardware business, to reform a stifling hierarchical culture and to improve its corporate governance and transparency.
Like other family-run conglomerates in South Korea, Samsung has been credited with helping propel the country’s economy to one of the world’s largest from the rubbles of the 1950-53 Korean War. But their opaque ownership structure and often-corrupt ties with bureaucrats and government officials have been viewed as a hotbed of corruption in South Korea.
Lee Kun-Hee was convicted in 2008 for illegal share dealings, tax evasion and bribery designed to pass his wealth and corporate control to his three children. In 1996, he was convicted of bribing a former president. But in both cases, he avoided jail after courts suspended his sentences, at the time a common practice that helped make South Korean business tycoons immune from prison despite their bribery convictions.
Most recently, Samsung was ensnared in an explosive 2016-17 scandal that led to South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s ouster and imprisonment.
Lee Jae-yong was sentenced to five years in prison in 2017 for offering 8.6 billion won ($7 million) in bribes to Park and one of her confidants to help secure the government’s backing for his attempt to solidify control over Samsung. He was freed in early 2018 after an appellate court reduced his term and suspended the sentence. But last month, prosecutors indicted him again on similar charges, setting up yet another protracted legal battle.
Lee Kun-Hee was a stern, terse leader who focused on big-picture strategies, leaving details and daily management to executives.
His near-absolute authority allowed the company to make bold decisions in the fast-changing technology industry, such as shelling out billions to build new production lines for memory chips and display panels even as the 2008 global financial crisis unfolded. Those risky moves fueled Samsung’s rise.
Lee was born on Jan. 9, 1942, in the southeastern city of Daegu during Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula. His father, Lee Byung-chull, had founded an export business there in 1938, and following the Korean War, he rebuilt the company into an electronics and home appliance manufacturer and the country’s first major trading company.
When Lee Kun-Hee inherited control of Samsung from his father in 1987, Samsung was relying on Japanese technology to produce TVs and was taking its first steps toward exporting microwaves and refrigerators.
A decisive moment came in 1993 when Lee Kun-Hee made sweeping changes to Samsung after a two-month trip abroad convinced him that the company needed to improve the quality of its products.
In a speech to Samsung executives, he famously urged, “Let’s change everything except our wives and children.”
Not all his moves succeeded.
A notable failure was the group’s expansion into the auto industry in the 1990s, in part driven by Lee Kun-Hee’s passion for luxury cars. Samsung later sold near-bankrupt Samsung Motor to Renault. The company also was frequently criticized for disrespecting labour rights. Cancer cases among workers at its semiconductor factories were ignored for years.
Earlier this year, Lee Jae-yong declared that heredity transfers at Samsung would end, promising the management rights he inherited wouldn’t pass to his children. He also said Samsung would stop suppressing employee attempts to organize unions, although labour activists questioned his sincerity.
The 52-year-old Lee expressed remorse for causing public concern over the 2016-17 scandal, but did not admit to wrongdoing regarding his alleged involvement.
Lee Kun-Hee resigned as chairman of Samsung Electronics before the 2008 conviction. But he received a presidential pardon in 2009 and returned to Samsung’s management in 2010.
“As South Korea’s most successful entrepreneur, (Lee Kun-Hee) received a dazzling spotlight, but he had many vicissitudes full of grace and disgrace,” the ruling Democratic Party said in a statement. “We hope a ‘new Samsung’ will be realized at an early date as Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong promised.”
First COVID-19 vaccine could be delivered to distribution points as early as end of December, Fortin says – CBC.ca
Federal officials today explained how they plan to roll out millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses in the coming weeks as Ottawa launches its mass inoculation campaign.
The initial supply of the doses will be limited — just three million Canadians are expected to get a shot in the first three months of 2021. Millions more doses are expected to arrive as the supply chain stabilizes.
One of the principal challenges facing the immunization effort is the distribution of vaccines that must be kept at very low temperatures – well below those that a standard commercial refrigerator can offer.
The Pfizer product, which is expected to get the green light from Health Canada as early as this month, needs to be kept at approximately -80 degrees Celsius to remain stable. The Moderna product, another vaccine that uses groundbreaking messenger RNA (mRNA) technology, must be kept at -20 degrees Celsius.
Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, a former NATO commander in Iraq, is leading vaccination logistics and operations at a new national operations centre in the Public Health Agency of Canada. While the country is facing unprecedented “logistical complexities,” he said, the military and its partners will be ready to deploy vaccines as soon as they are approved in Canada.
He said the national operations centre isn’t waiting for Health Canada’s sign-off to begin preparations. The Pfizer product will be delivered by that company directly to provincial and territorial distribution points as early as the end of the month.
The federal government already has secured the cold storage required for this product. All of the provinces have indicated where the Pfizer-specific fridges should be placed and 14 distribution points nationwide will be ready to receive the vaccine starting on Dec. 14, Fortin said.
Eventually, there will be 205 “points of issue” locations across the country where health care professionals can administer the vaccine, the general said. It will be up to the provinces and territories to specify where and when individual Canadians will be inoculated.
Fortin said at least one “dry run” has been executed so far, with more planned in the days ahead, to ensure things run smoothly once this vaccine hits our shores from manufacturing hubs in the U.S. and abroad. These practice runs will ensure officials are comfortable with what Fortin called the “very unique requirements” of this vaccine.
Fortin said he’s actively planning for multiple worst-case scenarios, such as bad weather, cyber attacks and fires at distribution hubs.
“We’re very much executing a whole-of-nation approach. The size and scope and scale of this problem is unprecedented and there’s a number of factors at play,” he said. “I like the idea of being ready before the Christmas timeframe, so we are certain to be ready when it comes in January.”
The general said his team is in daily contact with Pfizer and the company is “comfortable” with the plan that Canada has crafted. Pfizer has said it won’t ship product to a country that isn’t ready to receive a vaccine that is so temperature-sensitive.
Dr. Supriya Sharma, the chief medical adviser at Health Canada, said Thursday that the regulatory review of Pfizer’s vaccine is “progressing really well” and her department has the “majority of information” it needs from the company to certify that it’s safe and effective.
In an interview with CBC’s Power & Politics, Sharma said the final approval could come in the next 7 to 10 days. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is set to meet on Dec. 10 to decide on an emergency use authorization (EUA) for that shot and Sharma said Canada is following a similar timeline.
Canada has placed orders with Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech for 20 million doses of the two-dose vaccine, with options for millions more in the months to follow.
The company has reported its vaccine was 95 per cent effective in preventing COVID-19 among clinical trial participants who had no evidence of prior infection.
Preparing for the worst
The Moderna vaccine, which is expected to secure regulatory approvals after the Pfizer product, will be imported into Canada by the federal government, largely through private shipping companies. Ottawa will in turn divide up the product for the provinces and territories.
The government is now finalizing “end mile” contracts with logistics firms — the companies that will transport the Moderna vaccines to centres where Canadians can go for a shot.
On Monday, the Massachusetts-based company applied to the FDA for its EUA for the American marketplace.
Data from the company’s final clinical trial are encouraging, demonstrating the vaccine is 94.1 per cent effective at preventing COVID-19 and 100 per cent effective at preventing severe cases of the disease.
Dr. Howard Njoo, Canada’s deputy chief public health officer, said the federal government is now refining who is best suited to get an early dose of a vaccine — early guidance from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) suggests seniors in long-term care homes and frontline health care workers will be among the first to get a shot.
Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and his party’s health critic Michelle Rempel Garner held a news conference this morning to discuss an opposition day motion that will call on the government to release its plan by Dec. 16.
O’Toole accused the government of failing to provide Canadians with a plan and a timeframe for vaccine distribution.
“Without a concrete timeline for vaccines, businesses won’t have the confidence to reinvest in their operations and rehire Canadians who have been laid off during the pandemic,” he said.
“Without a reliable timeline, or details, provinces have the impossible task of establishing complex supply chains with no lead time.”
The motion calls for a status update on:
- How each type of vaccine will be safely delivered, stored and distributed to Canadians.
- The date on which each vaccine type will be first deployed in Canada and the rate of vaccinations anticipated by month.
- Any planned federal guidance with respect to the deployment of the vaccine by priority group, such as front-line health workers and seniors.
- The plan to distribute the vaccine to Indigenous communities, members of the Canadian Armed Forces and veterans.
Ontario reports 1,824 new COVID-19 cases including record high in Peel – CityNews Toronto
Ontario is reporting 1,824 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, an increase from 1,723 cases the day before.
Fourteen new deaths were also reported. This brings the provincial death toll to 3,712.
Due to a data processing error, Thursday’s provincial case count includes 127 cases from the Middlesex-London Health Unit that were reported over the previous three days, the government said.
Peel Region set a new record with 592 new cases reported. The City of Toronto reported 396 new cases, followed by York Region with 187.
The province says it has conducted 52,873 tests since the last daily report.
In total, 666 people are hospitalized in Ontario due to COVID-19, including 195 in intensive care.
The province also says 107 people are on ventilators in hospitals.
The latest figures bring the total of COVID-19 cases in Ontario to 121,746 and 103,239 cases resolved.
In the province’s long-term care homes, 707 residents currently have COVID-19 and eleven new deaths have been reported today.
The province says 116 of its 626 long-term care homes are experiencing an outbreak.
The province also reported 122 new COVID-19 cases related to schools, including at least 94 among students.
Those bring the number of schools with a reported case to 755 out of Ontario’s 4,828 publicly funded schools.
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With files from the Canadian Press
TD posts big Q4 beat as provisions sink, wholesale profit triples – BNN
Toronto-Dominion Bank closed out earnings season for Canada’s Big Six lenders on Thursday on the same note as its rivals: a big profit beat driven in part by spectacular growth in capital markets and far less cash set aside for loans that could go bad.
TD’s net income for the three months ending Oct. 31 totalled $5.1 billion, compared to $2.9 billion a year earlier, amid a $2.3-billion gain stemming from the stake it held in TD Ameritrade prior to the brokerage’s takeover by The Charles Schwab Corp.
On an adjusted basis, TD earned $1.60 per share in the fiscal fourth quarter. Analysts were expecting $1.27 in adjusted profit.
The bank booked $917 million in provisions for credit loss in the quarter, compared to $2.2 billion in the previous quarter and $3.2 billion in the fiscal second quarter.
“TD delivered solid results in the fourth quarter, capping off a year that demonstrated the strength of our business model and balance sheet, and the resilience of our people throughout the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic,” said TD CEO Bharat Masrani in a release.
“While 2020 was not the year we expected it to be, we learned from the experience and demonstrated the speed and agility of our organization,” he added. “We will continue to adapt to the current environment to deliver for all of our stakeholders and support an inclusive and sustainable recovery.”
TD’s capital markets operations saw profit more than triple from a year earlier as net income reached $486 million in the final quarter of 2020. The bank attributed the growth to higher revenue from trading activities as well as a jump in debt underwriting fees. The profit growth for the division stands in stark contrast to its condition less than two years ago when it posted a surprise loss in the first quarter of 2019.
The bank’s bread-and-butter retail operations in Canada were a pillar of strength in the fiscal fourth quarter as profit rose three per cent year-over-year to $1.8 billion.
TD’s operations south of the border struggled in the quarter, as profit from U.S. retail banking slid 41 per cent year-over-year to US$403 million. The decline came amid an uptick in provisions for credit losses and as income from fees and lending margins came under pressure.
Programming note: Don’t miss BNN Bloomberg’s conversation with TD CEO Bharat Masrani Friday, Dec. 4 at 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT.
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