SEOUL, Oct. 16 (Korea Bizwire) – Samsung Electronics CEO and Vice Chairman Kwon Oh Hyun’s decision to resign by March of next year has left Samsung Group Vice Chairman Lee Jae Yong as the clear successor to his father as the head of the Samsung empire.
After the resignation of fellow Vice Chairman Choi Ji Sung of the Future Strategy Office, Kwon was the only one with equal title to the legally troubled scion Lee plus the decades of experience to possibly pull rank.
The path to the top is unchallenged once Kwon effectively steps down. Only Chairman Lee Su Bin, head of Samsung Life Insurance Co Ltd, holds a noteworthy title, but is not involved in operations management and is more a chairman in name only.
Paradoxically enough, Lee’s position as the future leader of Samsung was solidified by the bribery scandal which landed him a five-year prison sentence – he has so far remained in legal custody on grounds of his appeal.
Prior to the legal proceedings, Lee had yet to fully separate himself from the shadow of his bedridden father and chairman of Samsung Group Lee Kun Hee. It is believed that those within the conglomerate have accepted the younger Lee as he has gone through a trial by fire as the leader of the company.
Kwon’s resignation is interpreted by the financial sector as the first domino to fall in what will be a change in leadership, a handing down of authority to a younger generation headed by Lee.
At this year’s company heads meeting, many incumbents are expected to be replaced by younger managers.
Speaking about his decision to resign, Kwon said, “When thinking about the rapidly changing technology industry and its inherent qualities, I believe now is the time for younger management to step forward and make a fresh start with uncommon resolve.”
Along with personnel changes, corporate restructuring is most likely also on the agenda. After the Future Strategy Office was shuttered – allegations of abuses of power and manipulating the law were rampant – the conglomerate as a whole lost its command center.
There is speculation that Samsung Electronics, Samsung Life Insurance and Samsung C&T Corporation will serve as focal points under which other minor affiliates will be reorganized.
Initially, talks of Samsung Electronics serving as a holding company for all electronics services affiliates had been raised in the aftermath of the closure of the Future Strategy Office, but the option was dismissed in April.
The internal company heads meeting is usually held in early December. The fact that last year’s meeting was cancelled, coupled with Kwon’s resignation decision made public in October, makes this year’s meeting likely to herald significant changes.