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Samsung replaces mobile chief, promotes chairman’s daughter

SEOUL: Samsung on Tuesday replaced the head of its mobile business and promoted the chairman’s daughter as the South Korean giant seeks to reassert its smartphone dominance amid a generational power transfer in the founding Lee family. 

In an annual personnel reshuffle, Samsung named Koh Dong-Jin, executive vice head of Samsung Electronics’s mobile research and development, as the new head of mobile business.

His predecessor, J.K. Shin, will still remain as head of the overall IT and mobile unit, but will “step back from day to day operations” to focus on long-term strategy, the company said in a statement.

Shin, 59, took over the mobile division in 2011 and oversaw Samsung’s rise to the world’s number-one smartphone maker.

But the unit has struggled of late against growing competition across all price segments — from arch rival Apple’s high-end iPhone to cheaper models churned out by smaller Chinese rivals like Xiaomi.

Koh led the development of Samsung’s latest flagship devices including the Galaxy S6 smartphone and Galaxy Note 5 tablet.

“It is expected that Koh will be able to achieve another breakthrough in the mobile business by using his deep insight in a wide range of businesses including… mobile solution and service development,” the company said.

Samsung’s mobile unit saw a 40 percent on-year increase in third-quarter operating profit, but price cuts to the Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge smartphones — and increased shipments of mid-to-low end smartphones — meant the unit’s net profit actually declined compared to the second quarter.

Tuesday’s reshuffle also saw Lee Seo-Hyun, a daughter of Samsung Group chairman Lee Kun-Hee, promoted to the head of fashion business at Samsung C&T — the group’s fashion and construction unit.

The 42-year-old was previously the head of management planning and her promotion comes as the group accelerates efforts to transfer the Samsung helm to her brother, J.Y. Lee — currently vice chairman of Samsung Electronics.

Lee Kun-Hee has remained bedridden after suffering a stroke in 2014.

The Lee family controls the vast conglomerate through a complex web of share cross-holdings in group subsidiaries.

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