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Samsung Electronics CEO Announces Surprise Resignation
15 October 2017, 01:03 | Harold Aguilar
Samsung CEO Kwon Oh-hyun
Samsung Electronics Co. said Friday its Vice Chairman and chief executive officer Kwon Oh-hyun will not extend his current tenure in office, which expires in March 2018. Chairman Lee Kun-hee, who transformed the company from a copycat appliance maker to a global technology leader, said in 2010 that Samsung was entering a "real crisis", just after the company achieved record annual sales of more than 130 trillion won.
His decision to resign comes at a time when the company tries to clean up its reputation amidst bribery case. In August, Lee was sentenced to five years in prison for corruption after he was found guilty of being involved in bribing the then-South Korean president, Park Geun-hye.
Mark Newman, senior research analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein said Kwon's top deputies, President J.K. Shin, who is in charge of mobile products, or Kim Ki-nam, president of Samsung's semiconductor business, may succeed Kwon. Case in point, Samsung today announced its earnings guidance for the third quarter of 2017, saying it expects to a record operating profit of 14.5 trillion won (~$12.9 billion), compared with 5.2 trillion won (~$4.6 billion) during the same quarter a year ago.
Kwon played an important role in Samsung's advancement in the semiconductor industry. He expressed a "deep sense of pride and honor" in an emotional letter to employees, but ultimately concluded that now more than ever Samsung is need of a new leader, and that he is ready to embark on the next chapter of his life.
"I want my resignation to be an opportunity for a higher level of challenge and innovation and to overcome this hard situation", Kwon said in the statement. However, according to Reuters, he also stated that even though Samsung is currently enjoying record profits, "We are not able to even get close to finding new growth engines by reading future trends right now".
Kwon, also known as Mr. Chip, was in charge of Samsung's component business.
"Nobody wants to be the chief of Samsung Electronics at a time like this; it's too risky", said Park.
At the time of writing this report, it was not clear who would be taking over from Kwon Oh-hyun as CEO.
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