SEOUL, Dec 3 – Samsung Electronics — the world\’s largest maker of flat screens and memory chips — on Friday promoted the chairman\’s only son to president, heralding the start of a third generation of family management.
Shares in South Korea\’s largest company hit a record closing high of 894,000 won (785 dollars) after Jay Y. Lee, son of chairman Lee Kun-Hee, was elevated.
The 42-year-old, previously executive vice president, will keep his role of chief operating officer and lead the search for new growth engines, the company said in a statement.
Also promoted was Lee Boo-Jin, 40, the chairman\’s eldest daughter. She was named president and CEO of the Hotel Shilla affiliate and president of the de facto holding company Samsung Everland.
The previous Samsung Electronics president Choi Gee-Sung, 59, was promoted to vice chairman and will continue as chief executive officer.
The company, the world\’s second largest mobile phone maker after Nokia, is the flagship of the Samsung group, which has dozens of affiliates and accounts for nearly 20 percent of the country\’s gross domestic product.
Samsung Electronics is competing with Hewlett-Packard for the status of the world\’s biggest technology firm by revenue, and is seeking new growth models in an increasingly competitive industry.
"Today\’s appointments are aimed at leading the way through the rapid changes of the 21st century," the company said in a statement.
Jay Lee "is expected to continue to strengthen the competitiveness of Samsung\’s strategic businesses and to lay the foundation for Samsung\’s future new growth businesses".
Stock market investors "hope the new generation of Samsung leaders, including Lee Kun-Hee\’s son Jay Lee, will actively seek new growth engines", HI Investment and Securities analyst Lee Sang-Hun told Dow Jones Newswires.
The junior Lee was educated at Harvard Business School and joined the company in 1991.
Samsung (meaning "Three Stars") was launched in 1938 when Lee Byung-Chull, the son of a wealthy landowner, opened a trading company. Samsung Electronics began operations in 1969.
The founder\’s son Lee Kun-Hee, now 68 and the country\’s richest man, 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.
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.
Also Friday the group announced it will set up a new organisation called the Samsung Corporate Strategy Office to manage group-wide affairs.
"The third-generation management succession is set in motion," said Kim Sang-Jo, a professor at Seoul\’s Hansung University.
"But succession is not completed by promotion itself as they will have to prove their leadership skills," Kim told Yohanp news agency. "In that sense, the real succession process starts now."