Samsung’s Vice Chairman Jay Lee has made another trip to the US this week, his fifth of the year, but no one seems to know exactly why, ZDNet Korea reported Friday.
Samsung declined to say why Lee has made yet another visit to the US, but the report says it’s for market research and to come up with a strategy that could counter Apple’s iPhone 6 release.
It’s not unusual for a company of Samsung’s size to have its executives frequently visit the US, which owns the second-largest smartphone market in the world.
But even under those standards, five times in less than nine months seems like a lot.
Lee was in the US in January before the Galaxy S5 launch, and came back in May over Korean holidays to meet with “local customers,” the report says. He also made two trips in July — one for the Allen & Co Sun Valley Conference, and another for what was widely presumed to be a meeting with Apple, which culminated in Apple and Samsung agreeing to drop all patent lawsuits outside the US.
One thing worth noting is the fact that Lee held a meeting with Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in Seoul this week, right before his departure to the US. Local reports say the two discussed possible future collaborations and how to improve their business relationship. In August, Microsoft sued Samsung over late royalty payments they agreed to in a 2011 contract.
In fact, according to Chosun Ilbo, the largest Korean daily newspaper, Nadella gave Lee “special treatment” by visiting the Samsung headquarters for their meeting. Nadella held every other meeting, including the ones with LG Electronics and IBM, at his hotel during his stay in Korea, the report says.
The Korea Herald reports that industry watchers are expecting the two companies to work closely moving forward because they have “no choice but to cooperate” in light of the mounting competition from Chinese competitors.
Lee is the only son of Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee. He’s often called the “Crown Prince of Samsung” because he’s the leading candidate to take over the company once his father decides to step down.