Samsung sets out to become the world’s jolly green giant

No, not a producer of canned vegetables but the world’s biggest producer of ‘green’ environmentally friendly products.

The South Korean giant, which accounts for 20 per cent of that country’s exports, is to launch or expand businesses in five sectors involving renewable energy or healthcare: solar cells, rechargeable batteries for hybrid cars, lighting, biopharmaceuticals and medical equipment.

The new focus will bring it up against some of the world’s other manufacturing monsters including General Electric, Philips and Sanyo.

Chairman Lee Kun-hee, who has returned to the company after fighting bribery charges, says this will lead to $44bn in incremental sales by 2020, meaning the company will be roughly one sixth bigger.

But he also says its current biggest businesses, LCD flat screens and memory chips, may not exist in ten years’ time hence the urgency to go green. Samsung is currently the world’s biggest seller of IT products, ahead of Hewlett-Packard.

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