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(Bloomberg) -- Lee Kun-hee, who transformed Samsung Electronics Co. from a copycat South Korean appliance maker into the world’s biggest producer of smartphones, televisions and memory chips, has died. He was 78.Lee passed away on Sunday with his family by his side, the company said in a statement, without mentioning the cause of death. His family will hold a private funeral. He had surgery in 2014 after a heart attack and was treated for lung cancer in the late 1990s.Lee, who told employees to “change everything except your wife and children” during his drive to foster innovation and challenge rivals such as Sony Corp., was South Korea’s richest person. He had an estimated net worth of $20.7 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Samsung, the biggest of South Korea’s family-run industrial groups, known as chaebol, has been led by his only son since the heart attack.“Chairman Lee was a true visionary who transformed Samsung into the world-leading innovator and industrial powerhouse from a local business,” the company said. “His legacy will be everlasting.”The reins are now set to pass to his only son Jay Y. Lee, who’s been the conglomerate’s de facto leader since his father’s hospitalization in 2014. Lee is expected to eventually inherit a $300 billion company that’s riding a Covid-era boom in online activity. Samsung, the maker of the Galaxy line of smartphones, also supplies semiconductors for Google’s data centers and Apple Inc.’s iPhone. It’s the world’s most advanced maker of displays for TVs, computers and mobile devices.The younger Lee is currently grappling with two simultaneous legal disputes with South Korean prosecutors over allegations of bribery and corruption, which he’s repeatedly denied.Read more: At Samsung, a Death Watch and a $7 Billion Estate Tax BillLee Kun-hee’s heirs now face an estate tax of roughly $10 billion, and paying it may complicate the family’s control of the Samsung conglomerate -- his beneficiaries would likely have to sell some assets to cover the tax — diluting their stake in Samsung. South Korea’s levy of 50% on estates of more than 3 billion won ($2.6 million) is the second-highest among countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, after Japan.The Samsung empire includes 62 companies. Although the late Lee owned large chunks of some of the businesses — including 4.2% of Samsung Electronics — they’re not big enough to afford control of the conglomerate. The family depends on informal ties to executives who run related companies, and a lot of that soft power may dissipate with Lee’s death.Global PowerhouseIt was Lee Kun-Hee who built the company into the electronics powerhouse of today, becoming synonymous with the rise of South Korea on a global economic stage.Named one of the world’s 100 most influential people by Time magazine in 2005, Lee began overhauling Samsung Electronics after he saw the company’s products gathering dust in a Los Angeles electronics store, according to “The Lee Kun Hee Story,” a 2010 biography by Lee Kyung-sik. The Suwon, South Korea-based company had become known for cheap, low-quality electronics gear and was in the “second phase of cancer,” sending out 6,000 people to fix products made by 30,000 employees, Lee said in 1993, according to the biography.Why Samsung’s Billionaire Scion Faces Two More Trials: QuickTakeThe company’s makeover started in 1993 when Lee gathered top executives in Germany and laid out a plan, known as the Frankfurt Declaration, to transform Samsung from a second-tier television maker into an industry leader. The company’s new mission: create high-quality products, even if it meant lower sales.Samsung Electronics became the world’s top maker of computer memory chips in 1992, the same year it became the first to develop 64-megabyte DRAM chips, according to the company.Samsung’s OriginsLee was born on Jan. 9, 1942, in Daegu about 240 kilometers (150 miles) south of Seoul, and was raised in the nearby rural district of Uiryeong, according to the company.In 1938, his father Lee Byung-chull opened a four-story grocery store in Daegu that would later become Samsung Group.As a teenager, Lee Kun-Hee liked movies and cars and kept to himself. He took up wrestling and played rugby in high school to fight loneliness. He graduated with a degree in economics from Waseda University in Tokyo and also studied business administration in the U.S. at George Washington University in Washington.In 1971, Lee Byung-chull chose his youngest son to be his successor, and in 1974, the company moved into semiconductors when it acquired a 50% stake in unprofitable Hankook Semiconductor. The business turned profitable in 1988, helped by dynamic random-access memory chips it produced.After the Frankfurt Declaration, Lee required employees to arrive at work at 7 a.m. instead of their usual 8:30 a.m. start, so they could “soak up reform in their slumber,” according to the biography.In 1995, he assembled 2,000 workers to watch him make a bonfire out of 150,000 mobile phones, fax machines and other company products that didn’t meet his quality standards.Lee’s cultural change eventually produced results. Samsung Electronics surpassed Tokyo-based Sony to become the top seller of flat-screen TVs in 2006, the same year its market value exceeded $100 billion.In 2010, Samsung introduced the Galaxy-branded smartphone running Alphabet Inc.’s Android software, which helped it pass Apple as the world’s biggest smartphone maker in 2011 in terms of units sold. By introducing the Galaxy Note in 2011, Samsung created a new product niche known as the phablet, a smartphone-tablet hybrid.Political ControversySamsung became the biggest seller of all mobile phones in 2012, unseating Nokia Oyj, which had been the industry leader for more than a decade. Its success in smartphones then boosted profits at its component businesses, including memory chips, display and processors.Lee’s career was also notable for its setbacks and controversies. An expansion into the car business was unsuccessful. Samsung Motor Inc. rolled out its first automobiles in 1998 and failed to attract buyers. The unit was placed into receivership and Renault SA purchased a majority stake in 2000.Lee was mired in political scandals in the late 1990s after being convicted of paying bribes to former president Roh Tae-woo in 1996. He was pardoned by President Kim Young-sam a year later.In 2009, Lee was found guilty of tax evasion and breach of duty for causing losses at Samsung SDS Co., an information technology services provider, because he knew the company illegally sold bonds with warrants to his son at artificially low prices. He was fined 110 billion won and received a suspended three-year jail sentence.Presidential PardonFour months after the 2009 ruling, South Korea’s then-President Lee Myung-bak pardoned Lee, a member of the International Olympic Committee, so he could help the country’s successful bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.Lee, who resigned from the board of Samsung Electronics in 2008 amid the controversies, returned as chairman in March 2010, telling employees the business was “facing a real crisis.”“In 10 years, the majority of products that represent Samsung may no longer exist,” he said in a statement announcing his return. “We must have a new start. There is no time to hesitate.”Two months later, Samsung Group said it would invest 23 trillion won to expand in areas such as health care and solar batteries by 2020.Lee’s son, Jay Y. Lee, became vice chairman of Samsung Electronics in December 2012 and his daughter, Lee Boo-jin, is president of Hotel Shilla Co., a Samsung affiliate, raising concerns that the founding family would maintain its grip on the conglomerate at the expense of minority shareholders. That issue lies at the heart of the two legal disputes the younger Lee is now embroiled in.In August 2019, the Supreme Court ordered the retrial of Jay Y. Lee over bribery charges that voided an earlier decision to suspend Lee’s 2.5-year prison sentence. A special prosecutor had indicted the Samsung heir on charges of bribing a friend of former President Park Geun-hye in return for government backing for a merger that helped cement his control over Samsung while his father was hospitalized.In 1967, Lee Kun-hee married Hong Ra-hee. In addition to children Jay Y. and Boo-jin, he had a daughter, Lee Seo-hyun. Another daughter, Lee Yoon-hyung, died in 2005 at age 26.(Updates with details on inheritance tax from the seventh paragraph)For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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25 Oct, 2020 / 03:56

: The stock market rally could go either way, along with leaders like Microsoft and Tesla. It's peak earnings week as Election Day looms.

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25 Oct, 2020 / 01:23

The largest five stocks by market capitalization are substantially outperforming the S&P 500 and the Dow Jones Industrial Average Year-To-Date (YTD) as of October 23.

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25 Oct, 2020 / 01:01

Bitcoin had previously failed to close above $13,000 every day since Jan. 15, 2018.

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25 Oct, 2020 / 00:55

As bitcoin, ethereum and other cryptocurrencies get increasing attention from investors, Wall Street and its traditional banks continue to adjust to the shift.

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25 Oct, 2020 / 00:28

It’s a bearish start to the day for Bitcoin and the broader market. A Bitcoin move through to $13,200 levels would support the pack.

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25 Oct, 2020 / 00:16

Tons of traders have substantial hedges coming into the election leading to our discussion of the question-is everyone is hedged, where's the risk?

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25 Oct, 2020 / 00:14

With the bull market still in effect, stocks are likely to outperform bonds. But we needn’t throw away our dividends in hopes of keeping up with the bull; we can use a “double-discount” mechanism to buy shares for as little as $0.84 on the dollar.

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25 Oct, 2020 / 00:06

Earnings season is in full swing and the week ahead will see the release of quarterly reports from some of the world’s largest publicly traded companies. Apple, Amazon and Facebook are scheduled to report after Thursday’s close.

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24 Oct, 2020 / 22:20

Technology still remains the undisputed leader in the market, with the major players in the space still accounting for a big part of the market’s gains since the pandemic.

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24 Oct, 2020 / 21:29

Three months ago, Big Tech's biggest names traipsed into a Congressional hearing to be berated by politicians for their business dominance, then paraded in front of Wall Street a day later to be cheered for their financial dominance. Somebody must have enjoyed that, because it is about to happen all over again.

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24 Oct, 2020 / 16:32

A Friday note outlines institutional, corporate, and Millennial interest in the leading cryptocurrency.

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24 Oct, 2020 / 15:43

5G iPhones are finally here. But don’t get carried away by the hype. Sure, Apple (AAPL) is the shiny big brand that will grab consumer attention. But as an investor, you should be smarter.

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24 Oct, 2020 / 15:26

A recap of an exceptionally bullish week for bitcoin and crypto as a whole.

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24 Oct, 2020 / 13:00

As Facebook prepares to report its third-quarter results on Oct. 29, the company finds itself navigating the Beltway as much as Wall Street.

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24 Oct, 2020 / 12:56

The S&P 500's tech giants will vie for attention as they barrage the market with third-quarter earnings in the week before the Nov. 3 election.

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24 Oct, 2020 / 12:00

Keep an eye on Azure, Windows, Office and gaming growth rates, as well as commercial bookings growth.

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24 Oct, 2020 / 11:30

The IBM Retirement Fund added to positions in its parent company, Apple, and Microsoft in the third quarter. It also exited a small investment in energy explorer Diamondback.

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24 Oct, 2020 / 11:00

Picture it: You want to save for retirement, and you'd like to be invested in lots of huge and growing companies like Apple, Amazon.com, Microsoft, Google parent Alphabet, and Facebook. The Invesco QQQ Trust is an exchange-traded fund (ETF) -- a mutual fund-like security that trades throughout the day like a stock, and in which you can buy as little as one share.

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24 Oct, 2020 / 10:31

There's a lot that most of us know about Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL). There's a lot more worth knowing about Apple, though -- in part because you may want to get to know the company better as a possible investment. Here are seven interesting facts about Apple.

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24 Oct, 2020 / 10:04

The antitrust suit filed against Google by the US Department of Justice this week contains echoes of the government’s case against Microsoft 22 years ago, but it will hinge on the ways in which the two cases are different. Google’s defense will include its longstanding mantra that “competition is only a click away”—or, as the company said in a statement this week, “you can easily download your choice of apps or change your default settings in a matter of seconds—faster than you can walk to another aisle in the grocery store.” Microsoft couldn’t say that.

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24 Oct, 2020 / 10:00

(Bloomberg) -- Cheng Uei Precision Industry Co., a Taiwan-based cable and connector maker, will start mass production for Apple Inc. later this year from its new plant in India, according to a person familiar with the matter, the latest sign of the U.S. company’s increasing presence in the South Asian country.Apple’s major assembly partners, Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group, Pegatron Corp. and Wistron Corp., have all set up either a subsidiary or an iPhone assembly plant in India. The chairman of Cheng Uei, also known as Foxlink, is T.C. Gou, the brother of Foxconn founder Terry Gou.India is trying to attract manufacturing for Apple, Samsung Electronics Co. and other major smartphone brands with an incentive program, as political tensions between the U.S. and China escalate. The global coronavirus pandemic has added pressure on companies to review supply chains.Cheng Uei said in a statement on Friday that a company engineer was caught on internal surveillance video this month damaging automation equipment at the new Indian plant near Chennai. The suspect is a Chinese national, and the incident was reported to local police and Chinese authorities, it said.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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24 Oct, 2020 / 09:44