Samsung Electronics vice chairman Kwon Oh-hyun, who has been leading the company amid the absence of Samsung Group heir Jay Y. Lee, will step down from the management, the company said on Friday.
Oh-Hyun Kwon said it would not seek re-election as a member of the Board of Directors and the Chairman of the Board when his term ends in March, 2018. Vice Chairman Kwon will also resign as the Chief Executive Officer of Samsung Display.
In an emotional letter sent to all employees, Vice Chairman Kwon said that announcing his retirement was the most difficult 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.
"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," Vice Chairman Kwon said "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."
Kwon has been the chief of the electronics giant after Samsung scion Lee, also vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, was arrested earlier this year for bribery and other charges in a massive corruption scandal that removed Korea's former President Park Geun-hye. Lee was sentenced to five years in prison in August on bribing Park's confidante in return for help in succeeding his father. He has appealed denying the charges.
His resignation announcement comes at a surprise after the company earlier on the same day tipped it is on track to report a record high profit for the third quarter.
Samsung Electronics said its operating profit for the quarter ended September has nearly tripled to 14.5 trillion won ($12.8 billion) from a year ago, while its sales jumped 29.7 percent to 62 trillion won. Its previous record high operating profit was 14.1 trillion won in the second quarter.
The performance was largely attributed to the boom in the global semiconductor market that has buoyed the chip prices.
According to KB Securities, rising sales of the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8 smartphones will also improve the profitability of the mobile division, putting the sector's operating profit estimate at a better-than-expected 3.3 trillion won.
Samsung's mobile division saw its operating profit plunge to 100 billion won in the third quarter of 2016 due to the suspended production of the Galaxy Note 7, which recovered to 2.5 trillion won a quarter later.