|Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong answers a question from reporters upon arriving at Gimpo International Airport in western Seoul, June 18. Yonhap|
Samsung Group's de facto leader Lee Jae-yong was promoted to chairman of Samsung Electronics, the crown jewel of the group, the company said Thursday.
His promotion was endorsed at a board meeting earlier in the day, the company said, considering "an urgent need for stable management and leadership amid the deteriorating global business environment."
Lee started working at the tech firm in 1991 and was promoted to vice chairman in 2012.
His late father Lee Kun-hee served as Samsung Electronics chairman until he died two years ago and the position had since been vacant.
The promotion had been widely expected among industry watchers after he was given a presidential pardon in August for his conviction in a bribery case involving former President Park Geun-hye.
With the new title, Lee's leadership will be put to the test at a time when the tech giant has been trying to navigate mounting challenges from macroeconomic woes and slowing businesses.
Samsung Electronics earlier in the day reported a sharp decline in profits for the third quarter, as the semiconductor business has slowed significantly following the pandemic-fueled boom that boosted the chipmakers' top and bottom lines for the past few years.
A difficult road lies head for the tech giant in the coming months and well into the next year, amid growing economic uncertainties and fears of a recession.
Adding to the challenges, Lee's legal battle is yet to be over. He is currently standing trial over the 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates and alleged accounting fraud at the pharmaceutical unit Samsung Biologics. The merger and fraud are widely seen as key steps to strengthen his grip on the group. (Yonhap)