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Business & Politics

Jay Y. Lee meets Verizon CEO and Moderna co-founder

Lee discussed 6G telecom expansion and vaccine supplies, strengthening ties with the two conglomerates

By Nov 18, 2021 (Gmt+09:00)


Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg and Jay Y. Lee 
Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg and Jay Y. Lee 

Samsung Electronics Co. Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee has met with biopharmaceutical conglomerate Moderna’s co-founder and telecommunications giant Verizon’s chief executive and other management during his ongoing business trip to the US.

The biopharmaceutical and 6G telecom industries are among the South Korean conglomerate’s key post-pandemic strategic business targets announced in August, along with memory chips and semiconductors; as well as artificial intelligence, robots and supercomputers. At the time, Samsung said it will invest 240 trillion won into these sectors and hire 40,000 employees over the next three years.

Win-win partnerships with Verizon

On November 17, Lee met Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg and other management at Verizon’s headquarters in New Jersey to discuss collaboration for next-generation mobile telecoms. Lee and Vestberg have known each other for more than a decade since they attended the 2010 Mobile World Congress in Spain in 2010 when Vestberg was CEO of Swedish telecom company Ericsson. In 2020, Samsung signed a 7.9 trillion won deal to supply Verizon with 5G mobile telecom equipment and network solutions -- the largest-ever single export contract deal in the Korean telecom equipment industry.

The two companies are expected to collaborate in the next-generation telecom field as Samsung aims to expand its presence in the US telecom market while Verizon needs a long-term supply of telecom equipment. In the post-pandemic strategic business scheme announced in August, Samsung said it will invest in software to accelerate intelligent communication networks and grow as a leader of the next-generation network industry.

Jay Y. Lee and Moderna co-founder Noubar Afeyan 
Jay Y. Lee and Moderna co-founder Noubar Afeyan 

Talks over COVID-19 vaccine supply

On November 16, Lee visited Moderna co-founder Noubar Afeyan in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Afeyan co-established the US pharma giant in 2009, and before that, he founded venture capital company Flagship Pioneering in 2000 and has invested in over 100 life science and technology startups.

Lee and Afeyan met at the Flagship Pioneering headquarters in Cambridge and discussed providing more vaccines to Korea and future collaboration opportunities. The meeting is seen as strengthening their existing partnerships, including Samsung Biologics’ production of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines.

Samsung Biologics owns three contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) factories in Korea. The fourth factory is under construction, of which annual capacity will be 256,000 liters and the highest capacity for a single bioproduction base, the biosimilar company said. It plans to expand its business into vaccine and cell and gene-based treatments.

Lee will reportedly stay in the US until early next week, following completion of a 20 trillion won investment in a foundry plant in Texas and discussing semiconductor supply chains with US government officials.  

“Lee is in earnest looking for Samsung’s future cash cows and to recover his global network through the business trip to the US, after having a long period of quiet due to his legal risks involved with Samsung Biologics’ accounting fraud and Samsung Construction & Trading merger with Cheil Industries,” an economic official said. 

Write to Hyung-Suk Song at click@hankyung.com

Jihyun Kim edited this article.

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