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Samsung Electronics CEO Kwon Oh-hyun to retire after March 2018

15 October 2017

The chief executive of Samsung Electronics has announced that he will stand down next May, citing the "unprecedented crisis" faced by the smartphone maker even as it expected record profits.

Kwon plans to resign as head of Samsung's semiconductor and component business and will not seek re-election on the company's board when his term expires in March, Samsung said in a statement.

The "unprecedented crisis" is apparently a reference to Samsung Group's de facto leader and Vice Chairman, Lee Jae-yong (aka, Jay Y. Lee) being sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty of bribery, embezzlement, capital flight, and perjury charges.

Kwon Oh Hyun announced his retirement on October 13.

Samsung expects sales in the three months ended 30 September to hit 62 trillion won ($54.9 billion), with quarterly profits forecast at 14.5 trillion won ($12.8 billion), a near 300 per cent increase over the previous year.

While there was no indication that Lee took any major role in the electronics wing of the company, it is being reported that Kwon's resignation could be a sign that the scandal has an impact within the upper echelons of Samsung's management. "It has not been an easy decision, but I feel I can no longer put it off", wrote Kwon. "But now the company needs a new leader more than ever and it is time for me to move to the next chapter of my life". "There are no words to describe how proud I am that we built together one of the most valuable companies in the world".

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Mr Kwon, 64, is seen as Samsung Group's No. 2. Before he became one of Samsung's CEOs in 2012, he also served as the president and head of both the System LSI Division and the Semiconductor Business.

"Kwon himself might have thought over the issue for a long time", a Samsung spokesperson said, "but the notice itself was a surprise internally as well".

"Nobody wants to be the chief of Samsung Electronics at a time like this; it's too risky", said Park.

Lee was arrested for bribery charges in February 2017.

However, Samsung's legitimate business would appear to be ticking over nicely, with the company revealing its financial forecasts for the rest of the year.

Samsung Electronics CEO Kwon Oh-hyun to retire after March 2018