Samsung leadership in crisis after Kwon Oh-hyun quits

Alan Burkitt-Gray
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CEO says he’ll leave in March after ‘unprecedented crisis’ caused by bribery scandal

Samsung is in a leadership crisis after the most senior executive left in place after a bribery scandal announced his resignation.

Kwon Oh-hyun, CEO and vice chairman, said he would leave the company in March, after 32 years. “As we are confronted with unprecedented crisis inside out, I believe that time has now come for the company to start anew, with a new spirit and young leadership to better respond to challenges arising in the rapidly changing IT industry,”, said Kwon, who led the company’s highly profitable components and displays businesses.

“The company needs a new leader more than ever and it is time for me to move to the next chapter of my life,” he added, in a letter to employees.

Many had expected Kwon to take a more prominent role in Samsung after the imprisonment of one senior executive, Jay Y Lee, and the resignation of others. Samsung heir Lee received a five-year prison sentence for bribery in August after a scandal that also brought down the South Korea’s president former.

Samsung, worth around $310 million, makes telecoms network equipment as well as handsets, displays and semiconductors.

The company last month completed what it said was the world’s first interworking of 4G and 5G network equipment, working with SK Telecom. The two also demonstrated live 360° virtual reality video.

Kwon was seen as a key executive in building up Samsung’s semiconductor business. “We are fortunately making record earnings right now, but this is the fruit of past decisions and investments; we are not able to even get close to finding new growth engines by reading future trends right now,” he said in his letter to staff.