Samsung Unveils New Management to Quell Leadership Crisis


Kim Kinam succeeds Kwon Oh-hyun, who was widely credited with building up the components business — a major revenue driver for Samsung as other smartphone makers bought up its chips and displays.


D. J. Koh will lead the mobile-device division.

Jeon Heon-Kyun/European Pressphoto Agency

But in mid-October, Samsung said Mr. Kwon planned to retire. Explaining his decision, Mr. Kwon said the company was “confronted with unprecedented crisis” and needed new leadership.

Samsung also said on Tuesday that its chief financial officer, S.H. Lee, would become chairman of the board starting in March. Mr. Kwon currently holds that position, too, but Samsung said it would separate the two roles for the first time. Mr. Lee, who is no relation to the Lees who founded Samsung, will leave his post as finance chief.

Lee Kun-hee, the family patriarch who fell into a coma in 2014, remains chairman of Samsung Electronics, a different position from chairman of the board.

C.W. Chung, an badyst at Nomura, said the leadership reshuffle was supposed to have taken place last year but was delayed when the heir to the Samsung conglomerate, Lee Jae-yong, was implicated in a political scandal.

In that scandal, Lee Jae-yong and other executives were charged with paying millions of dollars in bribes and other inducements to win the backing of Park Geun-hye, then South Korea’s president, for a corporate deal. Ms. Park was eventually impeached and ousted. Mr. Lee was sentenced in August to five years in prison; an appeal is underway.

Samsung’s dominance in many of the fastest-growing areas in tech have kept it afloat despite all that — and despite last year’s disastrous recall of the company’s fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 phone.

No company, including Apple, sells more smartphones than Samsung. But Samsung also makes many of the chips and display panels that go into its rivals’ devices. And its chips power the data centers and servers that are in high demand thanks to the rapid expansion of cloud computing and services powered by artificial intelligence.

“Samsung’s position is really unique globally. They’re basically intertwined with everything,” said Keon Han, an badyst with Credit Suisse in Seoul.

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