By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Group gave out its biggest-ever number of promotions Tuesday.
The group advanced 501 people to senior and new executive posts with 48 made executive vice presidents, 127 as senior vice presidents and 318 as vice presidents. Last year’s total was 490.
Samsung Electronics accounted for 226 promotions.
Tuesday’s promotions affected those below president as a follow-up to the recent top-echelon shakeup.
Samsung’s handset division had the largest number of promotions with 34, accounting for 15 percent of the total at Samsung Electronics.
``The handset division has produced a stellar performance this year despite deepening patent disputes with Apple. We have no doubt that the division will do much better next year,’’ said spokesman Ken Noh.
``If there are good performances, we promote,’’ Noh added.
The company has become the world’s biggest maker of smartphones since the third quarter of this year after passing its corporate friend and foe Apple with its Galaxy-branded devices.
Samsung, which still trails Nokia of Finland in the overall handset market, could become the biggest manufacturer in the industry from the second quarter of next year as it is rolling out more low- and mid-tier mobile devices capitalizing on China, India and other emerging nations, according to officials.
The company is expected to ship over 100 million smartphones by the end of the year, according to officials involved with the matter, though Noh declined to confirm this.
Samsung is in 30 patent disputes with Apple in nine different countries. Samsung lost its bid to block Apple products in the Netherlands and Germany, while it won in the United States and Australia. Samsung is waiting for rulings from Japan and the European Commission (EC).
It promoted 89 research staff members in a back-up measure to further strengthen group-wide research initiatives.
Samsung Electronics’ annual reshuffle also included the promotion of Shim Su-ok to executive vice president.
Shim is the first woman to reach the position at the group’s electronics affiliate.
She has been marketing chief at Samsung’s visual display division since 2009 after gaining experience with the global marketing branding strategy team and cosmetics company P&G.
``Because Samsung is trying hard to demonstrate what we call `soft power,’ we will give more authority to qualified female executives. Who knows Samsung Electronics may have a woman president next year but no family scions,’’ said a high-ranking executive, asking not to be identified.
A total of nine women have been promoted including Shim, who wasn’t available for comment.
Another key point is the company is stepping up its localization strategies by giving more roles to non-Korean managers.
Samsung Electronics named eight as new vice presidents in its key markets of Hungary, the United States, Brazil and the United Kingdom.
The company gets over 90 percent of its total annual revenue from international markets, the spokesman said.
Previously, it promoted component division head Kwon Oh-hyun to vice chairman to effectively push its parts-related sector and allay concerns from key clients such as Apple over the sharing of classified information learned through business with its affiliates.
Lee Jae-yong, the son of Chairman Lee Kun-hee, and his sister Lee Boo-jin were excluded from the latest management changes.
Jae-yong was promoted to president at Samsung Electronics a year ago when his sister was named president of Samsung Everland, chief executive officer of affiliate Hotel Shilla and adviser to Samsung Group.