Samsung Electronics CEO Announces Resignation Amid ‘Unprecedented Crisis’

Kwon Oh-hyun is leaving electronics giant only months after de-facto leader sentenced in bribery scandal

Last Updated: October 13, 2017 @ 8:12 AM

Samsung CEO and Vice Chairman Kwon Oh-hyun said on Friday he’ll resign from his post in early 2018, adding another twist in the fallout from the imprisonment of Lee Jae-yong, the de-facto leader of the electronics giant.

Kwon announced his decision in a letter to Samsung employees.

“It is something I had been thinking long and hard about for quite some time. It has not been an easy decision, but I feel I can no longer put it off,” said Kwon. “As we are 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 “unprecedented crisis” Kwon referenced is the conviction of Lee earlier this year on bribery charges, landing the 49-year-old exec a five-year prison sentence.

Lee — who took the reins of the company after his father’s heart attack in 2014 — was found guilty of bribing a friend of former South Korea President Park Geun-hye  to secure a merger that would tighten his grip on Samsung.

Kwon was named CEO in 2012, and had been leading the multi-faceted electronics juggernaut since Lee’s sentencing in August; he’d joined Samsung in 1985. Kwon will leave the company in March 2018.

Samsung did not name a successor to Kwon. The leadership shakeups appear to have had little impact on Samsung’s business, however, with the company forecasting a banner third quarter of $12.81 billion in operating profit.