In a surprise move, Kwon Oh-hyun, the CEO of Samsung as well its vice-chairman, has announced he is resigning from the electronics giant.
Kwon made the announcement via a letter sent to employees. Writing about his impending departure from the company, which will take place next March, Kwon says leaving Samsung is something he’s thought about for a while.
“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,” Kwon says in his letter. “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.”
In referencing an “unprecedented crisis,” Kwon is almost certainly referring to the recent imprisonment of Samsung heir apparent Lee Jae-yong. A South Korean court sentenced Lee to five years in prison for a variety of charges related to corruption, perjury and embezzlement. The timing of Kwon’s departure is certainly interesting since it’s likely he would have been depended on to bring a measure of stability to the company during Lee’s ongoing absence.
Later in his letter, Kwon writes, “There are no words to describe how proud I am that we built together one of the most valuable companies in the world. We have come a long way to create a company that truly changes how people live, work and communicate with each other.”
At Samsung, Kwon is known as “Mr Chip.” He helped build the company’s component business into a powerhouse. Kwon has been with Samsung for 32 years. He became the CEO of Samsung Electronics in 2012 and the CEO of Samsung Display in 2016.