By Joyce Lee
SEOUL (Reuters) – Samsung Electronics’ de facto leader Jay Y. Lee was named executive chairman on Thursday, a symbolic move confirming that South Korea’s most valuable company will officially be run by the third generation of its founding family.
The change reflects a role Lee, 54, has been playing since his father, the late Samsung Group patriarch and chairman Lee Kun-hee, was hospitalized in 2014, analysts said. The elder Lee died in 2020.
Lee has been the vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, the crown jewel of South Korea’s largest business conglomerate, since 2012.
“The Board noted the current uncertain global business environment and the dire need for stronger accountability and business stability in approving the recommendation,” Samsung said in a statement.
The appointment comes as Samsung, the world’s largest maker of memory chips and smartphones, faces mounting business problems amid a sharp slowdown in global tech demand, driven by rising inflation, interest rates and a dark economic outlook.
Samsung reported a 31% drop in third-quarter profit on Thursday and said geopolitical uncertainties are likely to dampen demand until early 2023, as the global economic downturn has reduced appetite for electronic device.
(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Stephen Coates)