Samsung CEO resigns amid "unprecedented crisis"
The CEO and vice chairman of Samsung Electronics has announced that he will resign. Kwon Oh-hyun is also the CEO and a board member of Samsung Display, which will make for a significant void in its leadership ranks. Kwon has indicated he will step down from all his leadership roles within the Samsung chaebol when his decision takes effect from March 2018. Kwon had this to say in his correspondence with staff:
It is something I had been thinking long and hard about for quite some time. It has not been an easy decision, but I feel I can no longer put it off. 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. The company needs a new leader more than ever and it is time for me to move to the next chapter of my life.
The crisis that Kwon refers to is not the current financial state of the operations that he oversees, which includes its very successful components business, mobile display business and its leading range of Android devices. In fact, the company announced that it is headed for its second straight quarter of record profits on the back of booming sales, which includes the supply of the AMOLED displays that Apple is fitting to its iPhone X.
Instead, Kwon is in all likelihood to be referring to the scandals that have rocked Samsung’s wider leadership to the core. Its troubles started when the heir and de facto leader of the chaebol Lee Jae-yong was found guilty and imprisoned for bribing South Korean government officials in order to give the company favored treatment.
With Lee jailed in August for a period of five years, and now Kwon resigning, it is quite possible that other two CEOs in Samsung’s chaebol may also put arm’s length between themselves and the company. Perhaps for their own sake or for the sake of the company.