Samsung is buying back shares, but can it buy back its reputation?


The company also plans to add an outside director as part of its efforts to restore trust among investors.

Samsung announced a bunch of corporate moves on Monday as it looks to ease investor concerns.

The moves may appeal to critics like investor Elliott Management, which has been calling for the company to change its corporate structure by splitting its electronics unit in two and and returning some of its cash.

However, none of the moves gets at Samsung’s larger challenge: Winning back customers in the wake of two big product quality issues.

Samsung said Monday that it will look to add a CEO-type to its board of directors by next March, accelerate its share buyback and return more of its cash flow to shareholders over the next two years. It will also explore different corporate structures and whether to list on any additional stock exchanges.

That’s all fine and dandy, but the real question for Samsung is how it can restore its reputation after the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco and a separate washing machine recall.

If you are talking about how Samsung uses its cash over the next couple of years, arguably the most important use will be the money it puts toward rebuilding its brand and whether or not customers are willing to give the company another chance.

Until recently the family-run company has been able to pretty much do as it wished with little independent oversight. However, with shares of several units publicly traded, the company has come under pressure in recent years to be more open to investors.

Most recently, the family that controls the Samsung Group has been looking to fend off a call by from activist investor Elliott Management to change its corporate structure. Elliott had also been looking for the company to return more cash to investors and increase the numbers of outsiders on its board.

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