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14 October 2017, 12:26 | Kenneth Drake
Samsung CEO Kwon Oh-hyun
"As we are confronted with unprecedented crisis inside out, I believe that time has now come for the company start anew, with a new spirit and young leadership to better respond to challenges arising from the rapidly changing IT industry", Kwon said in a statement Friday.
'We are fortunately making record earnings right now, but this is the fruit of past decisions and investments.
While the latest financial results show Samsung's business units operating smoothly, that in itself may present risks for Kwon, said Park Ju-gun, who tracks corporate executives at CEO Score.
"Kwon himself might have thought over the issue for a long time", a Samsung spokesperson said, "but the notice itself was a surprise internally as well".
In its earnings preview on Friday, Samsung put its July-September operating profit at 14.5 trillion won ($12.8 billion), compared with 5.2 trillion won ($4.6 billion) a year earlier. Analysts forecast Samsung's 2017 net income almost doubled from 2016 and they expect Samsung to outdo its annual financial results for the next few years, thanks to its position as the world's largest maker of the semiconductor group known as memory chips that are used for mobile devices and computer servers. Semiconductors were Samsung's top earner in the three months through June, bringing in a record eight trillion won (S$9.6 billion).
For its bottom-line boost, the company credited the success of its Galaxy S8 smartphone, along with strong memory-chip sales. Kwon will also be leaving his posts at the company's board of directors and Samsung Display, effective on March 2018.
Samsung will lose another major executive soon.
Kwon was named CEO in 2012, and had been leading the multi-faceted electronics juggernaut since Lee's sentencing in August; he'd joined Samsung in 1985.
"I am anxious about a leadership vacuum at a time when Lee is absent from management", said Mr Chung Sun Sup, chief executive of research firm Chaebul.com, following Mr Kwon's announcement.
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