Samsung Electronics Co CEO resigns

Samsung CEO Kwon Oh-hyun

Samsung Electronics said Kwon will also retire from his board seat at Samsung Display Co.

Kwon Oh-hyun, the Samsung Electronics vice chairman and CEO who led the company's profitable semiconductor business, announced his resignation on Friday, the same day the company projected record quarterly profit on the back of its component manufacturing.

In a letter to employees, Kwon noted that as the firm is "confronted with unprecedented crisis inside out, I believe that time has now come for the company start anew, with a new spirit and young leadership to better respond to challenges arising from the rapidly changing IT industry".

The abrupt departure of Kwon, who had been acting head of the tech conglomerate since its de facto leader, Lee Jae-yong, was detained for a bribery trial, throws Samsung into yet another leadership vacuum.

Samsung has two other CEOs, each overseeing its mobile phone business and home appliance division.

Tech giant Samsung Electronics Co Ltd estimated on Friday its third-quarter operating profit almost tripled from a year earlier, beating expectations as strong memory chip prices likely padded margins.

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Kwon's sudden departure may be a calculated legal tactic to seek a softer punishment for Lee, said Shim Jung-Taik, an author of several books on Samsung and its corporate culture.

Kwon, however, thinks Samsung is in crisis and urgently needs to find new ways to fuel growth before the record-breaking performance resulting from earlier decisions fades.

"It is something I had been thinking long and hard about for quite some time".

However, in a sign of good news for the company, its estimated operating profits for the third quarter of 14.5 trillion won (US$12.8 billion) marked a record for quarterly profit, almost tripling the 5.2 trillion won earned a year earlier.

Prices of memory chips have skyrocketed globally due to the growing use of social media, mobile data, cloud computing and the emerging internet of things, which have combined to leave supplies tight. South Korea's largest company has been seeking to move past a bribery scandal that saw Lee thrown into jail, and to overcome a damaging recall a year ago of its flagship Galaxy Note 7 smartphone over exploding batteries. That is Lee Kun-hee, son of the company's founder and Lee Jae-yong's father. His lawyers are now appealing the conviction.

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