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Samsung elevates a new generation of CEOs

Oct 31,2017
Samsung Electronics on Tuesday replaced top executives of three divisions — device solutions, consumer electronics and IT and mobile communications — in a major introduction of new leaders under de facto boss Lee Jae-yong, now behind bars.

Samsung’s board of directors agreed to promote Kim Ki-nam, 59, president of the device solutions division, as chief of the division to replace Kwon Oh-hyun, 65, the outgoing vice chairman and CEO who led the unit that makes semiconductors.

Kim Hyun-suk, 56, president of the consumer electronics division, will be succeeding CEO and President Yoon Boo-keun, while Koh Dong-jin, 56, president of the IM division, will take over from CEO Shin Jong-kyun.

All of the new division chiefs are in their 50s, compared to their predecessors, who are in their 60s. Appointments will be confirmed at a shareholders meeting scheduled for March. Kwon, Yoon and Shin will remain members of the board until then.

Holding a Ph.D in electrical engineering from UCLA, Kim joined Samsung in 1981 and has served in a handful of positions, including head of the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology; CEO of Samsung Display; and head of the memory and system LSI businesses.

Koh, who has been serving in his current post since December 2015, joined Samsung in 1984 and spent over a decade in human resources before moving to the mobile business. He has been recognized for successful launches of recent smartphones as well as the company’s quick recovery from the Note7 recall.

Kim, who began his career at Samsung in 1992 as a senior researcher on the display team after earning a master’s degree in electrical engineering from Portland State University, is credited with helping Samsung maintain its position as the world’s No. 1 TV producer for 11 years in a row.

The overhaul at the top came after Kwon, also chairman of Samsung Electronics’ board of directors and CEO of Samsung Display, made a surprise announcement on Oct. 13 that he would step down. That day, Samsung announced it posted record-high quarterly revenue and profits for the July-September period in an earnings guidance.

“The next generation of leaders are well suited to accelerate the pace of innovation and address the demands of the connected world,” Kwon said in a statement Tuesday. “They have proven track records with extensive experience and outstanding expertise in their fields.”

Following in the footsteps of Kwon, CEOs Yoon and Shin will depart Samsung in March, shortening their three-year terms by a year.
“It is an honor and a privilege to have been part of the historic rise of Samsung Electronics,” the two CEOs said in a joint statement. “We are confident that our successors will keep the company on its growth path.”

As Kwon’s replacement as chairman of the board of Samsung Electronics, outside board members recommended Lee Sang-Hoon, who has been chief financial officer and president of the company since 2012, effective immediately. He will leave his current roles. This is the first time that Samsung has separated the chairman of the board and CEO roles.

An executive-level reshuffle is expected to follow imminently.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]