Amid claims Samsung Electronics is facing an "unprecedented crisis", CEO Kwon Oh-Hyun has announced he is stepping down from his role.
"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", he wrote.
He has represented Samsung Electronics at various occasions since the company's heir and vice chairman, Lee Jae-yong, 49, was jailed earlier this year. He later served as head of the division producing system semiconductors and then as head of the semiconductor business before becoming CEO of the company in 2012.
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Kwon first joined Samsung Electronics in 1985.
With Kwon's resignation, there's uncertainty with the leadership at Samsung.
Amazingly, Kwon's move was announced almost simultaneously with Samsung's third-quarter guidance, which predicted a record operating profit due largely to its business of producing chips and other components for mobile devices-a division that Kwon helped build. Semiconductors accounted for $7.2 billion during the quarter, Reuters reported, marking the company's top-performing business.
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Kwon announced his decision in a letter to Samsung employees. "It has not been an easy decision, but I feel I can no longer put it off", Kwon said in an English statement. For the third quarter of 2017, Samsung expects to make around 14.5 trillion won (around $12.8 billion) in operating profit off 62 trillion won (around $54.7 billion) in revenue, according to The Verge. The boom allowed Samsung to dethrone Intel Corp., the long-time global chip leader, in the second quarter and has yielded record earnings for smaller chip rivals such as SK Hynix. Kwon also said he won't seek reelection as a member of the company's board of directors once his term ends in March. "Lee's lawyers may argue that Samsung, with the veteran Kwon gone, needs its vice chairman back more than ever to lead the firm", he said, adding that the tactic had often been used by other family-run South Korean business empires. That is Lee Kun-hee, son of the company's founder and Lee Jae-yong's father.
Lee is appealing a five-year prison sentence for crimes related to a sweeping corruption scandal that toppled South Korea's president. His lawyers are now appealing the conviction.
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