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[CES 2024] Samsung Electronics eyeing a major M&A deal in 2024

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Han Jong-hee speaks to Korean press on Tuesday, local time, in Las Vegas at a sideline event at CES 2024. [SAMSUNG ELECTRONICS]

LAS VEGAS — Samsung is eyeing a major M&A deal this year, despite not-so-favorable economic conditions. Samsung Electronics CEO and Vice Chairman Han Jong-hee said that Samsung has been persistently reviewing investment and acquisition deals focusing on five areas — AI, digital health, fintech, robotics and vehicle components — and forecast that a draft should be out within this year. “To be honest, M&A conditions haven’t gone better at all compared to the past,” said Vice Chairman Han to Korean press on Tuesday, local time, at a sideline event at CES 2024, in Las Vegas. “In search of new growth engine, we have continuously made venture investments in small and midsized companies. We hope that a plan [for the investment] should be out this year.” Samsung Electronics has been pushing for big M&A deals for some time now. Vice Chairman Han had heralded a major one in 2022, but that has been pushed back due to economic downturn and geopolitical issues. The company’s most recent major M&A deal was its 2016 acquisition of U.S. audio company Harman in 2016 for $8 billion. Robotic ambitions Samsung is betting big on robots. Han said Samsung will roll out an assistive wearable robot dubbed Bot Fit this year, beginning with the B2B space.  “Starting with silver town for assisting with walking, as well as fitness and Pilates, Bot Fit will start from there and will roll out to the B2C market after some upgrades,” Han said. Samsung Electronics envisions three types of robots: a manufacturing robot, a retail robot and finally an “intelligent” one in the company’s home robot, Ballie, which has appeared at the trade show a few times in various forms. “At Samsung Research, we are developing a Samsung robot platform that has different parts for driving, making judgments, arms and legs. We did not exhibit robots at CES 2024, but we are strongly pushing for it,” Han said. Samsung raised its stake in the U.S. firm Rainbow Robotics from 10.22 percent to 14.99 percent this year via $21.2 million in stock purchases. AI edge While AI is all the rage across the tech industry, Han believes Samsung’s broad product portfolio gives it a competitive edge. “Samsung has products for in and outside of the home, from mobility to all of the products at home, and I think that’s our differentiation point,” Han said. “AI functions on the product are important, but connectivity is even better. And I believe that is our response in getting ahead.” Elsewhere at CES 2024, Samsung Electronics unveiled an AI-powered refrigerator which can recommend recipes based on the ingredient in stock and send them to the LCD screen of the company’s new induction stove.  “From TVs to tablets, smart monitors and sound bars, everything is installed with a ‘hub’ [network that connects devices],” he said.  “So for example, if you have an incoming call while putting in laundry in a washing machine, you can answer it on the washing machine,” Han said. 

BY JIN EUN-SOO [jin.eunsoo@joongang.co.kr]

 

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