Lee Kun-hee, man behind Samsung’s rise to tech titan, dies at 78

Lee Kun-hee, the ailing Samsung Electronics chairman who transformed the small television maker into a global giant of consumer electronics, has died.

In a statement, Samsung said Lee, who was 78, died on Sunday with his family members, including his son and de facto company chief Lee Jae-yong, by his side.

Lee Kun-Hee had been hospitalised since May 2014 after suffering a heart attack and the younger Lee has run Samsung, the biggest company in South Korea.

“All of us at Samsung will cherish his memory and are grateful for the journey we shared with him,” the Samsung statement said.

“Chairman Lee was a true visionary who transformed Samsung into the world-leading innovator and industrial powerhouse from a local business,” it said, adding: “His legacy will be everlasting.”

During Lee’s lifetime, Samsung Electronics developed from a second-tier TV maker to the world’s biggest technology firm by revenue – seeing off Japanese brands Sony, Sharp Corp and Panasonic Corp in chips, TVs and displays; ending Nokia Oyj’s handset supremacy and beating Apple Inc in smartphones.

Lee Kun-Hee had been hospitalised since May 2014 after suffering a heart attack and the younger Lee has run Samsung, the biggest company in South Korea.

“All of us at Samsung will cherish his memory and are grateful for the journey we shared with him,” the Samsung statement said.

“Chairman Lee was a true visionary who transformed Samsung into the world-leading innovator and industrial powerhouse from a local business,” it said, adding: “His legacy will be everlasting.”

During Lee’s lifetime, Samsung Electronics developed from a second-tier TV maker to the world’s biggest technology firm by revenue – seeing off Japanese brands Sony, Sharp Corp and Panasonic Corp in chips, TVs and displays; ending Nokia Oyj’s handset supremacy and beating Apple Inc in smartphones.

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