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Chairman Lee Jae-yong of Samsung (left) and those who have competed for succession with him. Photo: SCMP

Samsung Electronics Group of South Korea recently unveiled its global financial report for the first quarter of 2024, boasting a robust revenue surge of 12.8% to $54.1 billion USD, accompanied by a fourfold increase in profits, soaring to nearly $5.1 billion USD.

Among these figures, the four Samsung plants in Vietnam - located in Thai Nguyen, Bac Ninh (two facilities), and Ho Chi Minh City - delivered remarkable performances. Their collective revenue stood at $16.6 billion USD, marking a $2 billion USD uptick from the previous quarter. Combined, these factories amassed profits totaling $1.19 billion USD.

Leading the pack in profitability was Samsung Thai Nguyen, raking in approximately $690 million USD. Samsung Bac Ninh and Samsung Display Vietnam, both in Bac Ninh, followed suit with profits of $294 million USD and $126 million USD, respectively. Meanwhile, Samsung HCM City CE Complex secured nearly $40 million USD in profits.

This achievement contrasts starkly with the fourth quarter of 2023 when three out of the four Vietnamese factories incurred losses, collectively amounting to a $178 million USD deficit, despite Samsung Group's overall profitability of $4.83 billion USD.

Notably, Samsung Bac Ninh and Samsung HCM City CE Complex encountered losses of approximately $800 million USD in Q4 of 2018. However, robust profits from Samsung Thai Nguyen and Samsung Display mitigated these losses, resulting in a net profit of about $70 million USD for the quartet.

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Business results of Samsung factories worldwide in the first quarter of 2024. Unit: million won.

Even amidst challenges such as the Galaxy Note 7 incident in Q3/2016 and the COVID-19 pandemic-induced downturn in memory chip demand, Samsung's Vietnam factories remained resilient. The recent resurgence can be attributed to the revitalization of memory chip demand propelled by advancements in AI technology.

The launch of Galaxy S24 in early 2024 facilitated Samsung's breakthrough in the US market, witnessing a remarkable 31% growth in the first quarter compared to the same period last year. This resurgence signifies a turnaround for Samsung after grappling with declining smartphone sales.

Despite this progress, Samsung faces stiff competition from Huawei, which seized the global foldable phone market's top spot in Q1/2024. Nonetheless, Samsung remains at the forefront of innovation, having pioneered foldable phone technology in 2019.

Meanwhile, labor disputes loom large, with tens of thousands of Samsung employees staging a historic strike on June 7 over unresolved salary and benefits negotiations since January 2024.

Amid these developments, Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong's fortune soared to $11.5 billion USD, making him South Korea's wealthiest individual, owing to a $3.5 billion USD increase from last year. His journey has been punctuated by legal battles, including a 2015 merger-related conviction that was later overturned, underlining the company's enduring resilience.

Since its inception in 2008, Samsung Electronics Vietnam has burgeoned into a formidable player, with four factories boasting an annual export turnover of approximately $60 billion USD, highlighting Vietnam's significance in Samsung's global operations.

Manh Ha