Head of Samsung semiconductor unit to resign

Samsung Electronics CEO Kwon Oh-Hyun Resigns, Says Company is Facing an 'Unprecedented Crisis'

(LEAD) Samsung Electronics CEO Kwon Oh-hyun to retire after March 2018

In a letter sent to all employees, Kwon said that announcing his retirement was the most hard thing for him to do, but now was the right time and that he believes his decision is in the best interest of the company.

Kwon is one of the two vice chairmen at Samsung Electronics with Jay Y. Lee, who was sentenced to five years in prison in August for bribing a presidential confidante in return for help in succeeding his hospitalized father, Chairman Lee Kun-hee. Kwon, a semiconductor engineer, has met with President Moon Jae-in and attended events both at home and overseas since Lee was detained in February on corruption charges. Operating income nearly tripling to a record 14.5 trillion won ($12.8 billion) in the three months ended September, according to preliminary results.

Friday's personnel announcement came shortly after the company said it was expecting to log 14.5 trillion won ($12.8 billion) in operating profits for the July-September quarter, an all-time record and almost three times the 5.2 trillion won of the same period a year earlier. "It has not been an easy decision, but I feel I can no longer put it off", Kwon said in his letter.

"The results are good ones that largely meet market expectations", Dongbu Securities Co analyst Kwon Sung-ryul said.

Kwon joined the company in 1985 as a researcher of the company's Semiconductor Research Institute in the United States. If Kwon is right, Samsung won't catch up anytime soon.

Still, Kwon's announcement was unexpected, especially with the company making record profit from its semiconductor business, and the group is now left without a leader.

Kwon, also known as Mr. Chip, was in charge of Samsung's component business.

Samsung Electronics says its third-quarter profit likely surged almost three-fold over a year earlier to a new record high. It's also seeking to release a phone with a bendable display next year to tighten the lead with Apple and fend off challenges from Huawei, Oppo and other Chinese rivals.

Samsung did not name a successor to Kwon.

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