The Korea Herald


Samsung investors vote on board changes

By 황장진

Published : March 11, 2016 - 13:29

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Samsung Electronics Co. warned of rising competition across businesses from smartphones to memory chips, again sounding a dour note for the global technology industry in 2016.

The world’s largest smartphone vendor faces another difficult year after a 2015 plagued by economic turbulence and volatile exchange rates, Chief Executive Officer Kwon Oh-Hyun said in a letter to shareholders ahead of their annual meeting on Friday.

Investors across a raft of Samsung Group companies will vote Friday on proposals to allow non-CEOs to take up the chairman’s role for the first time, a move that signals efforts to improve governance. The family-controlled conglomerate, South Korea’s largest, drew criticism after it initiated the sale of a subsidiary to another unit, a controversial deal that helped to cement the Lee family’s control of the empire.

More immediately, Samsung Electronics -- the maker of Galaxy smartphones and the group’s crown jewel -- is fighting to protect its market share from Apple Inc. and Chinese rivals like Huawei Technologies Co. and grappling with declining semiconductor and consumer electronics prices.

“We expect core products of our company, such as smartphone, TV, and memory, will face oversupply issues and intensified price competition,” the CEO said in his annual letter. “We expect that 2016 will also be a tough year.”

Samsung Electronics in January reported a quarterly profit that fell short of expectations by almost 40 percent and said it expects slowing demand for smartphones and more global economic headwinds this year. The company is investing in new technologies such as foldable mobile displays to try and boost profit.

“Even under the challenging circumstances, we will renew everything from our product development and management to the organizational culture in order to lead the new era and become a true first mover,” Kwon said.

Apple -- Samsung’s biggest customer according to data compiled by Bloomberg -- has predicted its first sales decline in a decade. CEO Tim Cook said the maker of iPhones was seeing “extreme conditions” unlike anything it had ever encountered, with economic growth in China at its weakest pace in 25 years. (Bloomberg)