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Samsung apologises to shareholders for involvement in scandals
[SEOUL] Samsung Electronics Co apologised Friday for its involvement in scandals that've led to the ouster of South Korea's president and the recall of its Note 7 smartphones, pledging to improve governance in the face of pressure from investors.
Vice Chairman Kwon Oh Hyun delivered the apology at the smartphone maker's annual shareholder meeting in Seoul. Jay Y Lee, heir apparent at the smartphone giant, was absent as he remains in detention facing charges including bribery and embezzlement.
Prosecutors accuse Mr Lee of bribing a confidante of former President Park Geun Hye in return for the government backing of a 2015 merger that helped him tighten control over the South Korean technology giant.
Samsung denies Mr Lee did anything wrong and said court proceedings would reveal the truth. The fire-prone Note 7 was eventually killed off, with the debacle over its batteries estimated to cost the company about US$6 billion.
"I'm sorry for the scandal," Mr Kwon said, maintaining that the company didn't pay bribes in the form of donations.
"I apologise once again for the mistake with the Note 7 last year. It was a failure that arose from trying new technology."
Mr Kwon said the company isn't considering a stock split and any move toward a holding company "doesn't look easy" at this time. The company is reviewing its options and looking at areas including legal and tax.
Samsung shares fell one per cent to 2.068 million won in Seoul. The stock reached a record high this month on the back of robust semiconductor sales and the potential for a restructuring of the technology giant. Samsung said in November it was reviewing the idea of splitting into holding and operational companies, seeking to address investor concerns about its corporate governance structure.
Mr Lee's trial in Seoul's Central District Court began on March 9 with the next hearing planned at the end of the month. The trial overshadows the unveiling of Samsung's flagship S8 smartphone next week that the company hopes will revitalise its mobile business after the recall of the Note 7 last year.