Samsung heir apparent gets a promotion

Jay Y. Lee is promoted to new position of chief customer officer at the electronic gadgets maker

The heir apparent to South Korea's powerful Samsung Group has moved a step closer to the top job at Samsung Electronics.

Jay Y. Lee, son of group Chairman Lee Kun-Hee, has been promoted to the new position of chief customer officer at the electronic gadgets and components maker. The new position puts the 38 year-old Lee directly under Samsung Electronics Chief Executive Officer Yun Jong-Yong.

Lee will act as a bridge between Samsung and its most important customers while working to form new alliances with current and prospective customers, the company said.

Lee is widely viewed as being groomed to become head of Samsung Group, South Korea's most powerful "chaebol," or business group, and the promotion at Samsung Electronics will likely reinforce that view among company watchers.

Lee rejoined Samsung in 2001 after taking a break from the company to attend business school. Since then he has worked in the corporate strategy office and is credited with promoting innovation and convergence in the company's telecommunications, consumer electronics and semiconductor divisions. He also played a major role in the formation of S-LCD Corp., a joint LCD (liquid crystal display) manufacturing venture between Samsung and Sony Corp.

Chairman Lee laid the ground for the announcement during a new year address to Samsung staff when he said, according to the company, "The most important challenge is our commitment to our shareholders, customers and to the communities that have made Samsung's global success possible. We must fully strengthen our relationships with our business partners that provide the basis for our competitiveness over the years."

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