Samsung Electronics moves CEO, seen grooming next leader

Thu Jun 7, 2012 7:41am EDT
 
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By Miyoung Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics Co (005930.KS: Quote), Asia's technology powerhouse battling Apple (AAPL.O: Quote) for smartphone supremacy, is shifting its CEO to a new role as the family-run parent company prepares to transfer ownership control to a third generation.

Choi Gee-sung, 61, will assume the new role of head of corporate strategy at Samsung Group, which presides over some 81 companies including its flagship, Samsung Electronics.

In a career with Samsung spanning more than three decades, Choi has worked in all of the group's main business divisions, from semiconductors to home appliances, televisions and telecoms, before taking over as chief executive in 2010.

Crucially, he is widely seen as chief mentor to Jay Y. Lee, son of Samsung Electronics' chairman Lee Kun-hee and the group's heir apparent. Jay Y. Lee, 43, stays as chief operating officer.

"Jay Y. Lee is in the final stage of being groomed ... and Choi will help in this process, helping him look into the group as a whole, not just the electronics unit," said Chung Sun-sup, head of chaebul.com, an online information provider on South Korea's industrial conglomerates, which wield enormous political and economic clout.

Choi oversaw Samsung's rise to become the world's top maker of smartphones and televisions, just as rivals - from Sony Corp (6758.T: Quote) to Nokia NOK1V.HE and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion RIM.TO - have struggled to innovate.

The South Korean group named Kwon Oh-hyun as its new CEO. Currently head of Samsung's components business, which oversees chips and display, Kwon cemented Samsung's position in memory chips, where it has almost 50 percent global market share, and expanded into non-memory, or logic chips, which now account for 40 percent of Samsung's overall semiconductor revenue.

Under Kwon, Samsung became the sole supplier of the mobile processors that power Apple's iPhone and iPad - rival products to Samsung's own Galaxy and Note. The 59-year-old former engineer, who studied electrical engineering at Seoul National University and Stanford, has also led a restructuring of Samsung's LCD flat-screen business.   Continued...