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14 October 2017, 12:26 | Austin Hogan
Samsung CEO Kwon Oh-hyun
In a statement, the man known as "Mr Chip" said the time had come to "start anew with new spirit and young leadership".
In an emotional letter sent to all employees, Kwon said that while announcing his retirement was the most hard thing for him to do, he believed it was the right time and in the best interest of the company, amid continuing controversy around Samsung vice-chairman Lee Jae-yong, arrested on charges of bribery.
With its de facto leader gone, Samsung is clearly struggling at an executive level - and now it has lost vice chair and chief executive Kwon Oh-hyun, generally regarded as the second-most important person at the company behind Lee Jae-yong. Kwon, a semiconductor engineer, has met with President Moon Jae-in and attended events both at home and overseas since Lee was detained in February on corruption charges.
Kwon Oh Hyun announced his retirement on October 13. "It has not been an easy decision, but I feel I can no longer put it off", said Kwon. Kwon's departure from Samsung makes way for a new management that can finish the company's delayed reshuffle of its top executives. Samsung hasn't given out information on the timing of succession, nor did it share who will take on Kwon's responsibilities when he leaves next year.
Experts equally noted that the company was making record earnings right now, but this is the fruit of past decisions and investments and that the firms are not able to even get close to finding new growth engines by reading future trends right now. "We have come a long way to create a company that truly changes how people live, work and communicate with each other", Kwon said. Lee Jae-yong was widely expected to succeed his father as head of the group.
Mr Kwon would serve out his term as chairman of the board and board director until March next year, the company said.
Kwon joined the company in 1985 as a researcher of the company's Semiconductor Research Institute in the United States.
He played a major role in strengthening Samsung Electronics' position in the memory chips business across the world.
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