Kwon Oh-Hyun, co-chief executive officer of Samsung Electronics Co., speaks during the company’s annual general meeting at the Seocho office building in Seoul, South Korea. Source: Reuters

Samsung introduces new generation of leaders, recommends new chairman

SAMSUNG has announced chief financial officer Lee Sang-hoon has been recommended as its next chairman, while the current leadership on top will step down.

Lee will depart from his current role as CFO in order to become chairman, but he will not be part of the three-CEO structure. Instead, the top three CEO spots for the main business units of the company will be occupied by current employees, a statement from the company said on Tuesday.

Kim Ki-nam, the current president of Samsung’s semiconductor business and analysts’ previous favorite will succeed Kwon Oh-Hyun as CEO. Yoon Boo-Keun, who currently leads the consumer appliances division will step down, and will be replaced by Kim Hyun-suk, the current president. Finally, Shin Jong-kyun (also known as JK Shin) will be replaced by Koh Dong-jin (or DJ Koh).

Shin and Yoon had previously offered to resign their roles, while Kwon announced that he would retire.

The news emerges soon after Samsung announced a boost in shareholder dividends, and higher record earnings, following the tumultuous events of their exploding Galaxy Note 7 device and the conviction and arrest of corrupt former-CEO, Jay Y. Lee, who is currently appealing his sentence, while his father Lee Kun-hee is hospitalized.

At its shareholder meeting on Tuesday, Samsung revealed that they would be doubling annual dividends to shareholders to KRW9.6 trillion (US$8.5 billion) within the next three years, while their earnings report noted that this year’s capital spending would rise to KRW46.2 trillion.

Samsung is experiencing a shock of improved fortunes on the backs of its semiconductor business, by far the most profitable division in the company. Following growing demand for higher-powered semiconductors with improved components’ functionality – driven in part by increasingly complex devices, such as the coming Apple flagship handset, the iPhone X – Samsung has seen its share prices rise.

Yoon, one of the three CEOs, will step down. Source: Samsung Newsroom/Flickr

The report also noted that net income had risen to KRW11.04 trillion in the third quarter of the year, while operating profits were KRW14.5 trillion. The company bought back certain shares, and have since growth their semiconductor business – both those actions has helped Samsung become the biggest seller of smartphones in the world today, and has consistently outperformed Apple for the last two years.

The new chairman and CEOs will be expected to continue to reform Samsung’s reputation which has suffered under the burden of the PR disaster that ensued since former-CEO Jay Y. Lee was convicted on corruption charges earlier in September.

Samsung, like many other “chaebols” in South Korea – major family-run conglomerates – have had to battle perceptions of insularity, discrimination and corruption, a sentiment that has been especially heightened since the arrest of former-President Park Geun-hye.

There have been calls for the company to introduce new blood into the upper levels of management in Samsung, such as those from soon-to-be former-CEO, Kwon. The possible appointment of 62-year old Lee is certainly not what many imagine to be the “young blood” that was desired, but it could help reform the company’s image for the better.