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Samsung Electronics' CEO to retire as company seeks to rebuild leadership

Korean consumer electronics giant Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. on Oct. 13 said CEO Oh-Hyun Kwon will resign, marking the latest executive shake-up amid a tumultuous time for Samsung Group.

Samsung Electronics, the flagship company of the unlisted Samsung Group, said that Kwon, a 32-year veteran of the company, had contemplated retirement for some time.

"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 from the rapidly changing IT industry," Kwon was quoted as saying in a letter to employees.

Samsung Group is still reeling from a scandal that resulted in the resignations of some senior executives and culminated in the conviction in August of heir apparent Lee Jae-yong on charges of bribery, perjury and embezzlement. Lee, a vice chairman at Samsung Electronics, was sentenced to five years' imprisonment. He has launched an appeal.

Kwon had been expected to take on more responsibilities at the company, Reuters reported.

"The resignation of CEO, OH Kwon, was unexpected, but we trust a new CEO will be announced soon," analysts at Alliance Bernstein said in a research note Oct. 13. Among Samsung Electronics' "deep bench" of well-tenured executives, the head of the semiconductor business, Kinam Kim, is a likely CEO candidate, they said, noting that the semiconductor unit generated the bulk of the Samsung Electronics' profit.

Kwon joined Samsung Electronics' semiconductor business as a researcher in 1985. He led the development in 1992 of the industry's first 64-megabit dynamic random-access memory typically used for data or code that a computer processor needs to function, according to the company's website.

Kwon became president of the semiconductor business in 2008 and was appointed CEO in 2012. He is also a vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, a maker of various products, including smartphones, televisions and refrigerators. He will not seek re-election to Samsung's board when his term ends in March 2018, the company said.

In a separate announcement Oct. 13, Samsung Electronics said it expected to report operating profit for the quarter ended September of about 14.5 billion Korean won on sales of about 62 trillion won. The figures are ahead of the mean consensus of analysts' estimates compiled by S&P Capital IQ of operating profit of 14.36 billion won and sales of 61.84 billion won.

As of Oct. 12, US$1 was equivalent to 1,131.51 Korean won.