SEOUL – The CEO and vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, Kwon Oh-hyun, who has been the de facto head of the company since the arrest of heir and Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, announced on Friday that he will not renew his term which expires in March 2018.
Kwon, 65, has led the company since Lee was arrested in February 2017 for his involvement in the “Rasputin” corruption scandal and was later sentenced to five years in prison.
“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,” Kwon explained in a statement released by the company.
“As we are confronted with an unprecedented crisis inside and out, I believe that the time has now come for the company to start anew, with a new spirit and young leadership to better respond to challenges arising from the rapidly changing IT industry,” he added.
After graduating from Stanford University with a doctorate in electrical engineering, Kwon joined Samsung Electronics in 1985 and was appointed CEO by the company’s board of directors in 2012.
Kwon has played an important role in the spectacular growth of Samsung in the memory chip sector, a branch that he has led from 2011, with the company becoming the world’s largest memory chips producer during this period.
The company presented on Friday its forecasts for the third quarter of 2017, putting its operative profit at 14.5 trillion won ($12.8 billion), compared to 5.2 trillion won recorded a year earlier.
However, Kwon said that the excellent performance does not allay the company’s worries in the short and medium term given the constant problems plaguing the company’s leadership.
Before being arrested, Lee took over the reins of the company in 2014 after his father – who is still president of the company – suffered a heart attack and has been bedridden since then.