Samsung LED, one of the industrial group’s underperforming affiliates, is expected to see many of its executives pack their bags amid speculation that the company will be merged with the semiconductor division.
Among the 30 or so executives, nearly half are expected to be given the pink slip, industry sources told The Korea Herald. They said the decision was made following a recent group-wide audit at Samsung.
“Already, the LED executives are reporting to Kwon Oh-hyun,” said a source who declined to be identified. Kwon is the chief executive of Samsung’s semiconductor business.
The reshuffling will most likely come at the end of the year when Samsung conducts its annual personnel moves.
“There was a lot of talk during the audit about how to handle the underperforming divisions, such as the LED and LCD businesses,” the source said.
Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee has hinted that a change is inevitable at Samsung due to unfavorable business conditions stemming from signs of a recession at both home and abroad.
Samsung LED is a joint venture between Samsung Electronics and Samsung Electro-Mechanics.
Samsung LED officials denied the reshuffling reports, saying there were no grounds for such a move. They also said that they were working to reverse the market situation, which they insisted was not as bad as some believe.
Meanwhile, industry sources predicted some of the heavyweight executives in other departments may be relocated as well, such as Kwon himself. He was in July named to the newly created Digital Solutions division that absorbed the embattled liquid crystal display department.
Up to one-third of the LCD executives including the CEO and vice president were removed in July on sluggish business conditions.
Industry watchers predicted that Kwon, who has been recognized for his contribution to the semiconductor sector growth in previous year, may be given a promotion to become a vice chairman of Samsung Electronics to work alongside of vice chairman Choi Gee-sung.
Deteriorating light-emitting diode market conditions amid sagging global and local economic conditions is the reportedly biggest reason behind Samsung’s decision to cut the LED executives and possibly merge the whole division with the semiconductor business.
Analysts believe Samsung LED will slip into the red for the third quarter of this year, mostly as LED sales have turned sluggish on dormant TV demand.
The division’s third quarter sales were expected to fall by more than 20 percent from the previous quarter, while operating profit would lose more than 80 percent, they said.
Samsung Mobile Display also may undergo reshuffling at the year’s end, the sources said.
The scope of resignations may not be as wide, but market watchers said there were too many executives at the division; there are about 50 executives at the company.
But more changes could come if the affiliate is merged with the LCD division ― that is, the LCD department would be absorbed by SMD. This means Kwon would wield even bigger power.
The reshuffling at SMD, however, would not be due to bad business since the division is avidly fostering the up-and-coming OLED technology, but rather simply to streamline the executive level as there seems to be too many considering the size of the business.
SMD became the first company in the world last year that started to mass produce OLED panels for mobile devices. Its sales for 2010 reached 4.46 trillion won, while operating profit stood at 327.2 billion won.
By Kim Ji-hyun (email@example.com)
삼성, LED 임원 절반 물갈이할 듯
삼성 LED 임원의 절반 가까이가 연말 정기 인사에서 물러나게 될 것으로 보인다.
업계 관계자들에 따르면, 세계적인 불황으로 인해 고전을 면치 못하고 있는 LED에도 칼바람이 예상된다고 전했다.
현재 약 30 명 정도 되는 임원가운데 절반 가량이 물러나야 할 것이며, 이는 최근 삼성 LCD의 수순을 밟게 되는 것이다.
삼성은 이미 올해 7월에 연속 2분기 적자 등 부진한 모습을 보이던 LCD 사업부의 사장을 포함한 약 25명 가량되는 임원을 갈아치웠다.
따라서 삼성 LED 임원삭감 소식은 삼성이 디스플레이 부문을 어떻게든 손을 쓰기 위해 두 팔을 걷어 부쳤다는 의미이다. 특히 LED의 경우 삼성전자와 삼성전기가 절반씩 출자한 법인인 만큼 인사이동이 삼성 전체에 주는 영향도 적지 않을 것이라고 업계 관계자들은 전했다.
삼성 LED는 이전부터 올해 영업적자 전환이 예상되면서 삼성 반도체부문에 통합 될 것이라는 가능성이 제기되어왔다.
이렇게 되면 반도체는 물론 7월부터 LCD사업부까지 맡고 있는 권오현 사장의 역할은 더욱 커지게 된다.
이에 따라 업계에서는 권사장이 올 연말 인사에서 부회장으로 승진할 가능성도 조심스럽게 제기하고 있는 상황이다.
덧붙여, 이번 정기 인사에 삼성 모바일 디스플레이도 포함될 수 있다고 다수의 업계 관계자가 전했다.
모바일 디스플레이 부문의 경우 OLED 양산으로 승승장구하고 있지만, 임원 숫자가 사업부에 비해 비대하기 때문이다. 특히 모바일 디스플레이가 LCD와 다시 예전처럼 통합하게 된다면 다수의 임원이 정리될 가능성이 높다고 관계자들은 전했다.
한편, 삼성 LED 관계자는 인사이동설이 사실무근이며, 조명사업은 삼성이 여전히 주력하고 있는 분야로서 사업전망이 밝다고 강조했다.