Samsung Electronics (SSNLF) refused to commit to demands from a powerful activist shareholder to overhaul its complex structure and broaden the reach of its listed shares Tuesday as questions surrounding competence and corruption at the highest levels in South Korea continue to test investor faith in Asia's third-biggest economy.
However, while political leaders appear to be getting the message, Samsung seems defiant.
South Korea's President Park Geun-hye bowed to her people Tuesday and expressed her willingness to resign before her tenure was up, delegating that decision to parliament, but Samsung Electronics said only that it would study possible changes following adviser reviews that might involve splitting the company in an effort to streamline operations at the world's biggest smartphone maker.
"We want to be absolutely clear that that the review does not indicate the management or the board's intention one way or another," said Robert Yi, Samsung's vice president. "We remain absolutely neutral at this point and will make a decision only after the review is complete."
The review process, which will look into hiving Samsung into holding and operating companies, will take at least six months, given that possible changes to the corporate structure would create tax and legal implications as well as division of cash flow, the company said.
Samsung Electronics CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon spoke to investors on Tuesday less than two months after the Suwon-based company was forced to withdraw its flagship Galaxy Note 7 after fire ignited on its batteries, leaving an opportunity for Apple (AAPL) and others to swoop in. It has also recalled washing machines in the U.S. in November.