Samsung names new chiefs of its memory, foundry businesses

Samsung Electronics on Wednesday named the new chiefs of its memory and foundry businesses as the South Korean tech giant aims to further expand its presence in the chipmaking sector.
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Samsung Electronics reshuffled its senior executives team without replacing its recently deceased chairman or changing top leadership positions including that of vice chairman Jay Y. Lee, Reuters reported.

Heir apparent Lee, whose father and Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee passed away in October, is currently facing two separate trials that analysts say could land him in jail for a second time.

With the trials’ uncertain outcomes hanging over Lee, Samsung is seen taking its time before making big changes in leadership positions such as Lee rising to fill the vacant chairmanship, analysts said.

“Practically he has been at the helm of the company for six years, since his father was hospitalised in 2014,” said Park Sang-in, a professor at Seoul National University, adding that business conditions for Samsung were good and there was little need to change leadership.

“At least one of the trials will have to end before Lee may change position or cast a new vision for the company.”

New team

Samsung announced that Lee Jung-bae, 53, has been promoted to chief of its memory business, while Choi Si-young, 56, will head its foundry business.

Lee previously led Samsung’s DRAM product and technology unit, while Choi served as head of the company’s memory manufacturing technology center.

Samsung said the latest move is aimed at bolstering its technological competitiveness and occupying new markets with the next generation of leaders.

Lee is an expert in the DRAM sector who played a pivotal role in Samsung becoming the dominant player in the memory industry.

The South Korean tech giant said it believes Lee will further widen the gap with competitors in the memory business, including DRAM, NAND flash and other solutions.

Samsung is the world’s largest memory chip producer, with a 41.3 percent share in the DRAM market and a 33.1 percent share in the NAND flash sector in the third quarter of the year, according to market researcher TrendForce.

Choi is an expert in chip manufacturing and processing solutions, having served in various posts in Samsung’s semiconductor business.

Samsung expects Choi to use his experience and expertise in chip producing processes to achieve its goal of becoming the leading player in the foundry sector.

Samsung was the No. 2 player in the contract chip making industry with a 17.4 percent share in the third quarter, trailing far behind Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing (TSMC) that boasts a 53.9 percent market share.

Their predecessors have been assigned to new posts with the task of securing future technologies and managing broader research and development (R&D) projects.

Jin Gyo-young, who led the memory business, has been named head of the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology (SAIT), while Jung Eun-seung, previously head of the foundry business, will serve as chief technology officer of Samsung’s device solutions division.

Samsung said CEOs in its three major business divisions — Kim Ki-nam at device solutions, Kim Hyun-suk at consumer electronics and Koh Dong-jin at IT and mobile communications — will remain in their posts as the company sought stable management amid global uncertainties.

Meanwhile, Lee Jae-seung, current head of the company’s digital appliances business, was promoted from executive vice president to president.

He is the first man from the consumer electronics business unit to earn the title of president, according to Samsung. The 60-year-old led the development of hit home appliances, including the BESPOKE series, and has been chief of the company’s digital appliances unit since January.

Samsung said it will announce executive level reshuffle and unit reorganizing plans in the upcoming days.

Other Samsung Group affiliates also announced their senior executive reshuffles Wednesday.

Of them, Samsung Display Co., the world’s leading mobile display panel maker, appointed Choi Joo-sun as its new CEO. The 57-year-old will replace Lee Dong-hoon.

Choi, who currently leads the company’s large display business, will be tasked with completing Samsung Display’s transition to quantum-dot (QD) displays business.

Samsung SDS Co., a major IT service provider in South Korea, named Hwang Sung-woo, current chief of SAIT, as its new CEO. He will succeed Hong Won-pyo.

Samsung Economic Research Institute named Kim Jae-youl to lead its global strategy group tasked with recruiting talented individuals from around the globe.

Kim is the husband of Lee Seo-hyun, the second daughter of late Samsung Group chief Lee Kun-hee and a younger sister of Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong.

Of the trials Jay Y. Lee is a defendant in, one concerns the 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates that helped Lee assume greater control of Samsung Electronics. The other relates to his role in a bribery scandal that led to the impeachment of a former South Korean president, and for which he has previously been jailed for a year.

The latter trial in the Seoul High Court is expected to hold its final hearing this month.