Samsung CEO steps down amid 'unprecedented crisis'

The Samsung logo on one of the South Korean company's offices in Gangnam, central Seoul. (iStock)
The Samsung logo on one of the South Korean company's offices in Gangnam, central Seoul. (iStock)

Seoul - Samsung vice chairperson and CEO Kwon Oh-hyun is stepping down after more than three decades at the company, saying that he’s making way for new leadership amid a corruption trial surrounding the de facto chief.

"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 on Friday.

Kwon is one of the two vice chairpersons at Samsung with Jay Y. Lee, who was sentenced to five years in prison in August for bribing a presidential confidante in return for help in succeeding his hospitalised father, chairperson Lee Kun-hee. The younger Lee has appealed, denying charges.

He’s stepping down even though Samsung’s business remains robust. Earlier on Friday, the Suwon, South Korea-based company reported better-than-projected profit on booming demand for displays and memory chips. Operating income almost tripling to a record $12.8bn in the three months ended September, according to preliminary results.

Kwon will resign from the management board in March next year when his term ends, the company said. Kwon has served as a vice chairperson at Samsung since 2012 and also served as a senior executive at the company’s display division since last year.

“I want my resignation to be an opportunity for a higher level of challenge and innovation and to overcome this difficult situation,” Kwon said in the statement.

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