Older Samsung execs step down en masse

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Older Samsung execs step down en masse

The list of new CEOs shown in Samsung Electronics’ third-quarter financial report, published Tuesday, indicated yet again that a generational shift from bedridden Chairman Lee Kun-hee, 75, to his son and Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, 49, is under way.

The report, released in a regulatory filing, showed that five presidents have stepped down since the report for the July-September period. The five are all in their 60s - born between 1953 and 1957 - and include Kim Jong-ho, 60, a product quality management expert who became head of an office for global quality control management in March, and Rhee In-yong, an ex-broadcast journalist who has been taking care of Samsung’s public relations since 2005.

Kim’s departure just eight months after Samsung made the crucial decision to set up a new unit devoted to preventing a repeat of the massive recall and discontinuation of the Galaxy Note7 last year signals that the company “is that determined at human resources resuscitation in the advent of the Lee Jae-yong era,” said a long-time Samsung observer.

The en masse departure of presidents in their 60s was foreseeable as former Vice Chairman Kwon Oh-hyun announced on Oct. 13 that he would retire from management. On Nov. 2, Samsung promoted him to chairman as a show of respect to his decades of service to the company and promoted head of consumer electronics Yoon Boo-keun and head of mobile communications Shin Jong-kyun to vice chairmen in charge of external relations and future leader nurturing.

Samsung made sure that the actual jobs in the fields were filled by younger executives, announcing a list of seven new presidents - all under 60 years old.

The report also revealed two new presidents and two new executives at Samsung. One is Jung Hyeon-ho, 57, who has been tasked with heading a new task force to “discuss issues common among other affiliates and business sectors related with Samsung Electronics and bring out synergy.”

The task force partially inherits the duties of the Future Strategy Office, which was dismantled in March in the aftermath of its involvement in the political corruption scandal that toppled former President Park Geun-hye and led to the jailing of Lee Jae-yong. Jung is now touted as Lee’s right hand man at Samsung. The two became acquainted in the mid-1990s when they were both studying at Harvard.

The remaining three positions have been filled from outside Samsung Electronics. Roh Hee-chan, 56, who used to be chief financial officer at Samsung Display, assumed the position of president for management support; Lee Ji-sun, 46, who is now responsible for strategic marketing for the mobile communications division as an expert adviser; and Kim Dae-woo, 47, a new research adviser for the semiconductor research center. Lee and Kim’s experience is unknown.

Samsung is expected to announce an executive-level reshuffle before the end of this week, a follow-up to the president-level overhaul at the beginning of this month. Speculation is under way about the upcoming human resources change as the announcement is being pushed back by nearly two weeks. Some observers say the scale of the reshuffle is set to be the biggest in Samsung’s history or the organizational structure will undergo a major shift under the “generational transition” slogan.

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]
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