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Samsung patriarch to promote son in reshuffle

SEOUL, November 17, 2010 (AFP) – South Korea\’s richest man Lee Kun-Hee said Wednesday he would promote his only son to president of Samsung Electronics in a year-end reshuffle of personnel.

After arriving at Seoul\’s Gimpo Airport from attending the Asian Games in China, Lee answered "Yes" when asked by reporters if his son would take the post next month, Samsung officials said.

Lee Jae-Yong, 41, has been groomed as the third-generation successor since starting his career in 1991 at Samsung Electronics, the world\’s largest maker of computer memory chips and flat-screen televisions.

Last December Lee junior was promoted to executive vice president and also took the new post of chief operating officer.

Samsung Electronics also restructured itself to strengthen the independence of its various business divisions.

Samsung ("Three Stars"), which grew into the country\’s biggest business group, was launched in 1938 when Lee Byung-Chull, the son of a wealthy landowner, opened a trading company.

The group\’s flagship firm Samsung Electronics began operations in 1969.

The founder\’s son Lee Kun-Hee, 68, led Samsung for almost 20 years and was widely credited with turning it into a global brand.

He stepped down in April 2008 after being charged with tax evasion but returned as chairman of Samsung Electronics in March after receiving a presidential pardon.

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Samsung Electronics reported annual earnings of more than eight billion dollars last year, along with record sales.

It employs 164,600 people in 61 countries and is competing with Hewlett-Packard for the status of the world\’s biggest technology firm by revenue.

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