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LG Electronics replaces CEO to speed recovery

South Korea tech giant eyes digital transformation under ex-mobile chief Brian Kwon

Analysts say LG's young chairman, Koo Kwang-mo, is attempting a generational shift within the conglomerate.   © Reuters

SEOUL -- LG Electronics, South Korea's No. 2 electronics company, has chosen a new CEO to accelerate the company's digital transformation and improve its earnings.

Brian Kwon, head of LG's mobile and TV divisions, will take the helm as chief executive next week. He replaces Jo Seong-jin, who has led the company for the last three years.

LG has struggled in recent years in the smartphone market, where it faces competition from Apple, Samsung Electronics and, increasingly, Chinese players like Huawei Technologies.

Kwon, 56, has worked for the company for more than three decades, having joined Goldstar, LG's predecessor, in 1987. He made a name for himself by defending LG's leadership in the organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, display market against rival Samsung.

"The new leadership ... will focus much effort in the years ahead to accelerating LG's digital transformation across all operations to be more data-centric," said the company in a statement. "Going forward, LG will expand its focus on future core and common technologies."

LG's new CEO Brian Kwon (Photo courtesy of the company)

Though LG posted a strong third quarter, the company's operating profit for the first nine months of the year was down 11.2% to 2.3 trillion won from a year ago. Its shares have fallen 7.1% over the last six months, while the benchmark Kospi rose 5.2% during the same period. LG shares were trading down 1.1% on Friday morning.

Analysts say LG's young chairman, the 41-year-old Koo Kwang-mo, is attempting a generational shift within the conglomerate, which has long been run by seniority rather than meritocracy.

In a recent example of the new focus on performance over age and experience, LG Household & Health Care, a cosmetics affiliate of the group, promoted Shim Mi-jin, a 34-year-old female manager, to the post of vice president.

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