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Samsung sees strong growth at auto electronics unit

LISBON (Reuters) – Samsung Electronics expects strong growth at its audio and auto electronics unit Harman, containing put the company “firmly during the picture on the automotive industry” mainly because it eyes the autonomous car market, its chief strategy officer said.

Samsung, the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer, bought Harman not too long ago for $8 billion.

“Now it’s almost 20 months, still not a couple of years (because the purchase), but I would the honeymoon ends. Now we are in business,” Young Sohn, Samsung’s Silicon Valley-based president and chief strategy officer, told Reuters on Tuesday during the Web Summit conference in Lisbon.

Harman, noted for its audio speakers, carries a large automotive business encompassing navigation services, on-board entertainment systems and vehicle networks.

“The firm (Harman) made its numbers, concerning revenue growth and profit. And now we carry on and expect double-digit growth, that i think is very good. It firmly puts Samsung within the picture on the automotive industry,” he was quoted saying.

He added “i am always interested in partnerships, investment, acquisitions.”

As autonomous car technology develops, Sohn said Samsung was using the services of automobile companies on continuing development of 5G networks, meant for autonomous driving.

“Absolutely suit, can they do it alone?” Sohn inquired about car companies’ opportunity to develop many of the technology needed.

“They (car companies) must navigate such things as: once they adopt Android, or otherwise not? What can they with regards to their data? Would they design it for Google? These are new problems they haven’t seen before,” he was quoted saying.

He cautioned that full autonomous driving continues to be a bit away, although on a limited scale, it could possibly happen “very soon” in many components of China.

Asked in regards to drop of 27 percent in Samsung’s capital expenditure at the moment, Sohn asserted reflected a calmer cycle in the flash memory market and not other parts of spending.

“So you’ll still see us invest, always spend, but now the memory cycle is undoubtedly that you’ve got a dose of oversupply of NAND (memory) and now we thought i would decrease.”

He said this past year Samsung spent $46 billion, including on R&D. “If you have a look at any other company inside it, we spend more money than anybody,” he explained.

Taking part in Europe’s biggest tech conference, Sohn predicted that artificial intelligence will “disrupt everything we all know it, from publishing, to travel … and in what ways we serve our food,” adding though that she was optimistic about AI and that it creates more jobs.

(Reporting By Axel Bugge, editing by Andrei Khalip and David Evans)

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