Juno Cho, president and chief operating officer of LG Corporation, LG Group's holding company, has been named the president and CEO of LG Electronics' mobile division to spearhead its smartphone business, effective December 1. Current CEO Park Jong-seok, who recently suffered from health problems, was named chief technology advisor and will assist the newly appointed Cho as support.
This year saw LG Electronics' mobile business return to the black thanks to the spectacular success of the G3, its flagship smartphone series. LG secured 16.3 percent smartphone market share in North America, its highest ever, during the third quarter, over two times the 7.4 percent it had a year ago, just behind Apple and Samsung, according to US-based Strategy Analytics.
LG also posted 167.4 billion won ($152 million) in operating profit during the quarter, its highest since 2010.
Despite the successes, LG is yet to make a dent in China, the world's second-largest market, and other overseas markets. It has also been losing ground in the low- to mid-end, which Cho will likely need to address.
Cho, who was known as one of LG Group chairman Koo Bon-moo's most trusted lieutenants during his time at LG, previously led LG's mobile business strategy and sales and marketing for North America from 2000 to 2007. He is a Seoul National University Graduate with an MBA from the University of Chicago.
He is a known expert in marketing and sales, areas where LG wants to strengthen, as it believes it has now secured technical leadership in smartphones thanks to the outgoing Park's efforts, who is mainly an engineer.
Kwon Bong-suk, head of LG's synergy division, was promoted to executive vice president and CEO of the LG Home Entertainment Company, its consumer electronics division. Previously responsible for HE Company's monitor business, he is credited with securing LG's top place in LED monitors and was responsible for the development of the G series as previous head of product planning at LG's mobile division. During his tenure at LG's synergy team, he is known to have coordinated battery maker LG Chem, parts maker LG InnoTek, and display maker LG Display into providing their top-notch goods for LG Electronics to be put in the G3. He is also a Seoul National University graduate with an MBA from the University of Helsinki.
His mission for next year is to put LG-made OLED TVs on the map by cooperating closely with group affiliate LG Display.
LG is known to favour graduates of Seoul National University, the most prestigious university in South Korea. LG vice chairman Koo Bon-joon, the younger brother of LG Group chairman Koo, is also a Seoul National University graduate and is known to favour them for key posts.
Jo Seong-jin, who led LG's Home Appliance Company, will now head the newly created Home Appliance and Air Solution (H&A) Company. The merger of the HA and AE divisions will strengthen the company's ability to provide total solutions for the home based on LG's proprietary core technologies, LG said in a statement. Jo is credited with putting a dent in arch-rival Samsung Electronics' efforts in home appliance against counterpart BK Yoon.
Jo was also directly involved in the embarrassing washing-machine controversy with Samsung during the IFA trade show at Germany, in which he allegedly broke the door knob of a Samsung-made washing machine at a store there. Samsung has claimed that it was intentional, and South Korean prosecutors are currently investigating the allegations. Jo is credited with LG's top brass for "holding ground" over the incident.
LG also realigned its remaining businesses, with a particular focus on enterprise areas. Noh Hwan-yong, current president and CEO of the LG AE division, will take on the new role of B2B officer to position LG as a leader in the commercial sector, which includes information displays, commercial air conditioning systems, and energy-related initiatives, LG said.
Executive vice president Lee Sang-bong will lead a new division, called LG Energy Business Center, that will focus on solar, lighting, and energy storage system (ESS), a move likely to offset LG Electronics' underperformance in the area due to rise of cheaper Chinese competitors in the sectors.
LG also commenced a group-wide realignment of affiliates LG Display, LG InnoTek, and LG Chem on the same day, though only minor changes in the mid-level were announced. Han Sang-beom, CEO of LG Display, retained his position and will likely continue its push in OLED and widen its clients to automakers in Europe next year.