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Samsung CEO Kwon Oh-hyun resigns as company predicts record profits

"We are confronted with unprecedented crisis inside out," said Kwon, in a letter to employees.

Published onOctober 13, 2017

Samsung Electronics CEO and Vice Chairman Kwon Oh-hyun has announced plans to step down from his position at the head of the company. The 64-year-old, who has spent the last 32 years at Samsung, operating as CEO for the last five, cited a need to bring “new spirit and young leadership” into the firm.

“We are fortunately making record earnings right now, but this is the fruit of past decisions and investments,” he said in a statement, adding, “we are not able to even get close to finding new growth engines by reading future trends right now.”

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The move is surprising given that Samsung’s memory chip and display businesses — which Kwon is also heading — have been very successful in recent times, and will no doubt have played another significant role in Samsung’s Q3 2017 revenues.

Samsung released its earnings guidance report for the third quarter earlier today alongside Kwon’s announcement, and the company predicts record profits for the second straight quarter. Samsung expects consolidated sales of around 62 trillion Korean won (~$54.7 billion) and consolidated operating profit of circa 14.5 trillion Korean won (~$12.8 billion), resulting in a year-on-year revenue increase of ~28 percent and an operating profit increase of ~170 percent.

Samsung’s business has performed well throughout 2017 despite problems at the highest levels of its management. Samsung’s acting boss Jae-yong and four other executives were arrested on corruption charges earlier this year, and Lee was convicted in August. He’s set to serve a five-year sentence.

In a letter sent to employees (via USA Today), Kwon said: “We are confronted with unprecedented crisis inside out” — likely a reference to Lee’s sentence and the difficulties that have followed.

Kwon will officially leave his CEO post next March, though Reuters states that he is not immediately stepping down from his two other roles in display and semiconductors. Who will succeed him as CEO hasn’t yet been announced.

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