October 13, 2017 // 11:35 a.m.
Samsung Electronics chief executive and vice chair Kwon Oh-hyun has announced his resignation from the company, describing the company as suffering from an 'unprecedented crisis inside out'.
Despite posting record revenue for the quarter, electronics giant Samsung is struggling. Vice chair Lee Jae-yong, vice chair and heir to the company's controlling family, was arrested in February this year under charges of bribery including payments of around £29 million to Choi Soon-sil, confidant of South Korea's President Park Geun-hye, in exchange for the backing of a merger between two Samsung subsidiaries which chair Lee Kun-hee used to transfer control of the company to Jae-yong. Although Jae-yong denied the charges, he was sentenced to five years imprisonment in August - the harshest sentence ever handed down to a chaebol leader, the Korean name for the country's giant family-run conglomerates.
With its de facto leader gone, Samsung is clearly struggling at an executive level - and now it has lost vice chair and chief executive Kwon Oh-hyun, generally regarded as the second-most important person at the company behind Lee Jae-yong. 'As we are confronted with unprecedented crisis inside out, I believe that time has now come for the company to start anew, with a new spirit and young leadership to better respond to challenges arising in the rapidly changing IT industry,' Kwon claims in a statement regarding his departure. 'We are fortunately making record earnings right now, but this is the fruit of past decisions and investments. We are not able to even get close to finding new growth engines by reading future trends right now.'
Kwon will remain in his role of chief executive until a replacement can be found, and will remain as chair of the board until March 2018.