The South Korean firm also promoted the head of its network equipment business, which analysts said got a lift from a US campaign to convince allies to bar Huawei from their networks.
Samsung took an early lead in smartphones running on quicker fifth-generation (5G) telecommunication networks, but Huawei is widely expected to boost sales of 5G-capable smartphones and equipment this year, leveraging its huge home market.
Counterpoint analyst Tom Kang at said: "Samsung’s reshuffle seems aimed at coping with a potential major market change with the new technology. He is known to be decisive and so is likely to respond swiftly to that change to defend Samsung’s lead from Huawei.”
Long-time smartphone leader Samsung held a 21 percent market share in the third quarter, but Huawei closed in with 18 percent, showed the latest data from Counterpoint. That came even as Huawei in May was banned from doing business with most US firms, preventing its access to technology like Alphabet Inc’s Android.
Samsung appointed Roh Tae-moon, currently its youngest ever president at 51, as mobile chief as part of a reshuffle that came later than usual amid a series of court cases involving some of its top executives including leader Jay. Y Lee.
Roh championed Samsung’s shift to outsourcing more handset production to cut costs and better compete with lower-priced Chinese smartphone makers such as Huawei, people familiar with the matter previously told Reuters.
Samsung’s network business chief Cheun Kyung-whoon, who was involved in the world’s first commercialization of 5G services in South Korea, was promoted to president to help turn networking into a major business for the firm, Samsung said.
In August, the Supreme Court overturned an appeal ruling that had given Lee, 51, a suspended prison term, raising the possibility of a tougher sentence and potential return to jail.
Former mobile chief and co-chief executive DJ Koh will continue to lead Samsung’s IT & mobile communications (IM) division, which oversees both mobile devices and network equipment.
Samsung stock was up 2.5 percent versus 0.9 percent for the benchmark index.