LG Electronics Inc., South Korea's home appliance and smartphone maker, on Thursday replaced the head of its mobile division with the marketing chief of its parent company in a reshuffle aimed at further pushing the handset business that has recently gained steam after a slowdown.
Cho Juno, director and chief operating officer at LG Corp., the de facto holding company of LG Electronics, will take the helm of the mobile communications department, succeeding Park Jong-seok, the company said.
Park will be handling Cho's job as a new director at the parent company, led by LG Group Chairman Koo Bon-moo.
The latest shakeup is seen by market watchers as a move to solidify the company's global market presence amid heightening competition with Chinese upstarts, including Xiaomi Inc., which grew into the third-largest smartphone vendor in four years.
Despite the cut-throat rivalry between global players, notably in contrast to a big profit slide by Samsung Electronics Co., LG has managed to fare far better than what the market had expected, retaining its third place in the rankings for the last four straight quarters on the back of brisk sales of its marquee G3 models.
Its global market share by revenue stood at 5.4 percent in the third quarter, based on a fresh record high shipment of 16.8 million units of smartphones, according to Strategic Analytics. The mobile communications sector logged a record-setting quarterly operating profit of 384.4 billion won (US$348.9 million) in the July-September period.
Cho is regarded as the right man to shore up LG Electronics' mobile business to another level, market watchers said. The 55-year-old Chicago University graduate spent five years in the early 2000s spearheading LG's North American office, during which the company saw a big jump in market share.
Cho, also known as chairman Koo's right-hand man, is expected to focus on strengthening LG's overseas share through aggressive marketing, using his expertise.
As part of the executive shakeup, LG Group promoted Koo Kwang-mo, the sitting head of LG Corp.'s Synergy Team and the heir-apparent of the group, to executive director in the holding firm as the family-run conglomerate moves a step closer to the handover of management to the fourth generation.
The younger Koo, 36, was adopted by his uncle, LG's chairman, since Koo Bon-moo has no son. The junior Koo holds a 4.84 percent stake in LG Corp. as the fourth-largest shareholder.