Samsung to spend $21 billion on health, green energy

SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea’s biggest business conglomerate Samsung Group said on Tuesday it would invest 23.3 trillion won ($20.6 billion) by 2020 in new businesses including health care and green energy technology.

Samsung picked solar cells, rechargeable cells for hybrid electric cars, light emitting diodes (LED), biopharmaceuticals, and medical devices for new growth areas in its first detailed investment plans to challenge rivals such as General Electric, Dutch firm Philips Electronics and Japan’s Sanyo Electric.

The group, which generates around one fifth of South Korea’s total exports, forecast the new growth businesses would create 50 trillion won in annual revenues for group companies including its flagship firm Samsung Electronics by 2020.

The investment plan comes after Lee Kun-hee, the son of its founder, returned as the chairman of Samsung Electronics in March, nearly two years after he stepped down following a legal scandal.

Lee, 68, has repeatly warned most businesses and products that represent Samsung today would disappear from the market in 10 years and said it needed to start again.

“Governments around the world are now investing in green industries to address the issues of depleting energy resources... We must move ahead decisively to take this opportunity,” Lee said in a statement.

Samsung Electronics is the world’s top maker of computer memory chips and LCD screens and No.2 handset manufacturer.

Reporting by Miyoung Kim and Rhee So-eui; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner