South Korea's President Yoon Suk-yeol pardoned Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee on Friday. The pardon is largely symbolic, with Lee already out on parole after serving 18 months in jail for bribery relating to his time leading the world's biggest smartphone and memory-chip maker.

Analysts have long expected decisions on major M&A projects and investments once Lee was reinstated. Company sources say such decisions should only be made by Lee. "There's a high chance that announcements will be made going forward," says Park Ju-gun, head of research firm Leaders Index.

Presidential pardon for Samsung's Lee Jae-yong. Samsung is one of the world's largest semiconductor companies. The company has been in the news for a number of years, including its acquisition of South Korean chip maker ASML. Samsung has been accused of over-spending on chip production.

Top Samsung executives have hinted earlier this year at potential upcoming acquisition activity. "The presidential pardon gives him some flexibility to handle big management issues for now," said Lee Kyungmook, a professor at Seoul National University's Graduate School of Business. "It's not a done deal, but it's a good start," he said.

Samsung Electronics' cash balance increased slightly to 125 trillion won ($95.13 billion) as of end-June. Samsung Electronics has not conducted a high-profile deal since it completed its purchase of audio electronics maker Harman for $8 billion in 2017. Shares in Samsung Electronics were trading up 1% versus benchmark KOSPI's 0.1% rise.
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