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Samsung Elec names Jay Y. Lee executive chairman

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee arrives at a court in Seoul

By Joyce Lee

SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics' de facto leader Jay Y. Lee was named executive chairman on Thursday, a symbolic move confirming that South Korea's most valuable company will be officially run by the third generation of its founding family.

The change reflects a role Lee, 54, has held since his father, the late patriarch and Samsung Group chairman Lee Kun-hee, was hospitalised in 2014, analysts said. The elder Lee died in 2020.

Lee has been vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, the crown jewel of South Korea's biggest business conglomerate, since 2012.

"The Board cited the current uncertain global business environment and the pressing need for stronger accountability and business stability in approving the recommendation," Samsung said in a statement.

The appointment comes as Samsung, the world's biggest maker of memory chips and smartphones, faces mounting business headwinds amid a sharp downturn in worldwide tech demand, caused by soaring inflation, interest rates and a gloomy economic outlook.

Samsung reported a 31% drop in third-quarter profit on Thursday and said geopolitical uncertainties were likely to dampen demand until early 2023, as the global economic downturn slashed appetite for electronic devices.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Stephen Coates)