SEOUL (Reuters) - Tech giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd on Thursday named a new head of mobile marketing and a new China chief as part of an executive reshuffle designed to prevent a “decline” in momentum following the arrest of its vice chairman.
But analysts said the reshuffle looked more like a stop-gap measure rather than an long-term fix as the Apple Inc rival copes with the fallout from the absence of Samsung Group [SAGR.UL] leader Jay Y. Lee.
“It appears that Samsung made the changes at a smallest possible scale in order to ensure that its business operations keep running,” said Park Ju-gun, head of corporate analysis firm CEO Score.
Samsung said Executive Vice President Choi Kyung-sik had been promoted to lead the mobile division’s strategic marketing office as part of a shake-up at the product businesses such as smartphones and televisions. Choi’s predecessor, Lee Sang-chul, had been reassigned to oversee Southeast Asian operations.
Kwon Kye-hyun was named head of the China business, where Samsung’s smartphone sales have struggled to regain momentum amid competition from the likes of Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL], OPPO and Vivo.
Samsung Electronics typically announces such appointments at the end of a year but it did not do so in December as it was embroiled in the graft scandal that led to Lee’s detention and the ouster and arrest of former President Park Geun-hye.
“Samsung Electronics decided to execute on these appointments in the belief that the organizational metabolism would decline if we delay them any further,” the company said in a statement, adding they would “minimize uncertainties”.
Further executive appointments including in the cash-cow semiconductor division would be announced at a later date, a company spokeswoman said, without saying when.
The world’s top smartphone maker is expected to deliver record profits this year, on the back of a memory market boom and strong sales of its Galaxy S8 smartphones. The stock is up more than 26 percent in 2017.
Lee’s arrest in February has had little financial impact so far, but it has raised doubts about how Samsung will tackle future decisions concerning acquisitions or investments in new businesses that would normally need his approval.
As long as the profits keep rolling in, analysts say Samsung Electronics and other affiliates will likely retain their senior leadership and make minor adjustments in Lee’s absence.
Pre-orders for the flagship S8 phone have been better than its predecessor, the firm says, suggesting that consumers have stuck by the brand despite the collapse of the fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 phones last year.
But China remains a sore point. Samsung’s share of the world’s biggest smartphone market fell to 3.3 percent in the first quarter of 2017 from 8.6 percent a year earlier, according to researcher Counterpoint.
Reporting by Se Young Lee; Editing by Stephen Coates