Samsung Taps Its Semiconductor Head As New CEO


Samsung CEO Choi Gee-sung, who has been at the helm of the consumer electronics giant since December 2009, has stepped down from his role, the company confirmed Thursday.

Choi will be succeeded by Kwon Oh-hyun, who has spearheaded Samsung’s processor unit since 2008 and also took the lead on its display-components division last year.

It seems the move is part of a broader effort on Samsung’s part to de-centralize the power of its CEO and create more of a distinction between its consumer and components business. Under the new model, President Boo-keun Yoon will remain in charge of Samsung’s Consumer Electronics Division, which includes its TV and appliance products, and President J.K. Shin will oversee the IT and Mobile Communications Division.

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Yoon and Shin will not report directly to the newly-tapped Kwon, whose focus will remain more closely tied to the components business, along with larger corporate "corporate-wide affairs," such as the company’s on-going patent war with Apple.

"Since July 2011, Samsung Electronics has been independently running its set and component businesses and this will remain the case," Samsung told CRN in an emailed statement. "As before, Vice Chairman Kwon will oversee the company’s component business, but, as CEO, will also handle corporate-wide affairs."

Choi will continue to serve as Vice Chairman and retain his seat on the company’s board of directors. He will also transition into a new role, in which he will head Samsung Group Corporate Strategy Office, overseeing relations between Samsung and its affiliate companies.

In a separate announcement Thursday, Samsung said it was investing nearly $2 billion to create a new production line for its System LSI business in Korea. The new resources, it said, would be used to better meet the "growing market demand" for its semiconductor products, and will especially be pumped into the production of its mobile application processors on 300m, wafers at 20nm and 14nm process nodes.

According to a study published in March by market researcher IHS iSuppli, Samsung is second only to chip giant Intel in terms of worldwide semiconductor marketshare. Intel, the report said, held 15.6 percent of the market in 2011 – the highest it’s seen in ten years – while Samsung accounted for 9.2 percent.