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Sat, Jan 17, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Samsung reorganizes to fight slump

AP , SEOUL

Samsung Electronics Co said yesterday it will consolidate four key businesses — semiconductors, liquid crystal displays, mobile phones and televisions — into two divisions as the company deals with the slowing global economy.

The restructuring was included in an announcement of personnel changes at the company, as well as the broader Samsung Group of which the corporation serves as flagship.

Samsung Electronics CEO Lee Yoon-woo, who retains his position, will also take on the added responsibility of overseeing the combined semiconductor and LCD businesses in a Device Solution division, according to the announcement.

The company also plans a combined Digital Media and Communications division to be headed by Choi Gee-sung, bringing together televisions and mobile phones under one umbrella.

Samsung Electronics is the world’s biggest manufacturer of memory chips, liquid-crystal displays and flat screen televisions. It ranks second behind Finland’s Nokia Corp in mobile phones.

The company, however, has been struggling of late amid the global downturn and falling prices for semiconductors and flat screens.

Samsung’s net profit fell 44 percent in the third quarter of last year from the same period in 2007. Samsung is scheduled to announce fourth-quarter earnings next week.

“We needed to effectively respond to the current global recession,” Samsung spokeswoman Hwang Eun-ju said regarding the reason for the changes.

She also said that Samsung will cut the pay of top executives by 20 percent.

The group-wide personnel changes are the first since the resignation in April of Lee Kun-hee as chairman of Samsung Electronics, the post from where he oversaw the entire Samsung Group. The position of Samsung chairman remains unfilled.

Lee resigned after being indicted on charges of tax evasion, for which he was eventually convicted and handed a suspended prison sentence. He was acquitted on separate breach of trust charges.

Besides Samsung Electronics, the conglomerate consists of dozens of companies with interests in shipbuilding, construction, life insurance and leisure.

The group is said to account for about 20 percent of South Korea’s exports.

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