SEOUL – The CEO of Samsung Electronics, Kwon Oh-hyun, said on Thursday that the imprisonment of the tech giant’s heir, Lee Jae-yong, was a “tragedy” for the future management of the company.
The CEO and vice president of Samsung Electronics, who announced earlier in October that he would resign in March, said that although the business is “going well today,” the lack of leadership could negatively affect the company.
“It’s a kind of tragedy,” Kwon said in a business forum in the United States, referring to Samsung scion Lee, who was sentenced to five years in prison over his involvement in a corruption scandal that saw the country’s president Park Geun-hye removed from office, according to Yonhap news agency.
“The business itself is going well today. That means in the short term we have not big impact,” Kwon said, but added that “(in the) long term ... we need some ... chairman’s group’s advice.”
Kwon, 65, a key figure in making Samsung the world’s largest chip manufacturer, has been the de facto president since Lee’s arrest in March and is now steering the company.
Prior to his arrest, Lee took charge of the company in 2014 after his father, Samsung’s current president Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack which left him incapacitated.
According to a forecast report published last week, Samsung’s operating profit for the third quarter of the year has tripled year-on-year to 14.5 trillion won ($12.8 billion).
Since Kwon announced he would step down, questions concerning the immediate direction of Samsung have been widely raised as the company’s performance is based on important capital expenditures executed and endorsed in the long term by the company’s board.
As for the reasons which led him to resign, Kwon said he wanted to make room for a new generation of business leaders and expressed interest in mentoring start-up businesses in the future.