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Samsung Electronics CFO tapped to lead Samsung’s battery arm

Samsung SDI CEO nominee Choi Yoon-ho (Samsung SDI)
Samsung SDI CEO nominee Choi Yoon-ho (Samsung SDI)
Choi Yoon-ho, the chief financial officer of South Korean tech giant Samsung Electronics widely known to be close to its de facto leader Lee Jae-yong, was named Tuesday as the new chief executive officer of Samsung SDI, a Samsung affiliate dedicated to manufacturing batteries and display panel parts.

The 58-year-old currently heads Samsung Electronics’ corporate management office, which encompasses its corporate finance, corporate strategy, human resources, corporate communications, global public affairs, auditing, operations and legal affairs.

He will take the place of incumbent CEO Jun Young-hyun. Jun was promoted to Samsung SDI’s vice chairman and chair of the board.

The new CEO requires approval at Samsung SDI’s forthcoming shareholders meeting.

He has assumed a decision-making role in Samsung Electronics’ investment and financial risk management. Choi took the CFO role in Samsung Electronics in January 2020, becoming the second CFO to serve since Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee was hospitalized in 2014 and the then heir apparent Lee virtually rose to the highest rung of leadership.

Choi was formerly the CFO of Samsung Electronics Europe and head of financial management of Samsung’s mobile communications business division. From 2010 to 2014, Choi also served at a senior position in the Future Strategy Office, then considered Samsung’s de facto control tower.

The nomination signals a stronger push for investment of Samsung’s battery arm, as Choi was perceived as a key figure behind an investment decision of Samsung’s crown jewel with around 100 trillion won ($84.7 billion) in cash. In January, Choi promised Samsung Electronics shareholders to carry out a merger or acquisition within three years in a conference call while taking a cautious stance on COVID-19 uncertainties, as the tech giant was on a hiatus from M&As following a 2017 takeover of US audio electronics company Harman International for $8 billion.

Choi has spent most of his career with Samsung Electronics since he joined the company in 1987.

Choi’s promotion to a leadership position came as part of a Samsung Electronics reshuffle. Under the new leadership announced Tuesday, Kim Ki-nam, who headed its semiconductor division, was named chairman of the Samsung Advanced Institute of Technology. Han Jong-hee, head of the visual display business, was promoted to vice chairman and CEO of the SET division, a merged entity that oversees consumer electronic goods and mobile devices, while Kyung Kye-hyun, CEO of Samsung Electro-Mechanics, was named the new CEO of the device solutions division to replace Chairman Kim.

By Son Ji-hyoung (consnow@heraldcorp.com)
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