Report: Samsung's head of TVs may be asked to revitalize mobile business

Boo-keun Yoon, who heads Samsung's consumer electronics business, could also take charge of the mobile business, a report said

Samsung Electronics is considering a key management overhaul that could see the company's head of TVs and home appliances also overseeing its underperforming mobile business, according to a news report.

Boo-keun Yoon, a co-CEO who looks after Samsung's consumer electronics business, could also be given control of the mobile division, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited people familiar with the matter. The decision is, however, not final, the newspaper reported.

The market share of the South Korean smartphone maker fell to 23.8 percent in the third quarter from 32.5 percent a year ago, according to research firm IDC. The company said last week it planned to cut the number of smartphone models it makes by about 25 to 30 percent in 2015.

The company's net profit fell 49 percent in the third quarter. Unsold inventory piled up in warehouses because Samsung overestimated demand for its flagship Galaxy S5 smartphone, the Journal reported, quoting people familiar with the matter.

The new management structure could help the company respond more quickly to competition in its smartphone business, particularly from low-cost Chinese players.

Yoon is also expected to help Samsung compete in the Internet connected home market, as he has been a key advocate of the company's move in this direction, including by signing off on Samsung's acquisition of SmartThings, according to the Journal.

Samsung said in August that SmartThings will operate as an independent company within Samsung's Open Innovation Center group. The company's strategy is to create an open smart home platform that brings together third-party developers, device makers, and consumers.

On Monday, Samsung said it would not comment on rumors or speculation, when asked to comment on the report of the management changes.

If one of the scenarios being considered is finally adopted, the current co-CEO who heads the mobile division, J.K. Shin, may be moved out of his role. A third co-CEO, Oh-Hyun Kwon, who is in charge of components like semiconductors and display panels, could stay in his job, the Journal said, quoting people familiar with the matter. The three CEO model was adopted last year.

The report of the discussion on leadership changes comes ahead of an annual year-end reshuffle, but this year it assumes significance after Samsung's chairman Kun-Hee Lee was hospitalized in May after a heart attack. His son Jay Y. Lee, now a Samsung vice chairman, is widely expected to take over from him, though the timing of his appointment is not clear, according to the report.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

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John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
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