LG CEO replaced amid weak handset sales

LG Electronics CEO Nam Yong resigned Friday as the South Korean company struggles to make headway in the competitive smartphone market and falters in the overall mobile phone business.

LG Electronics CEO Nam Yong Koo Bon-joon, a member of the founding family of the LG conglomerate, will take the reins at the company, LG said. Koo has been CEO of LG International, a trading firm, and was also an executive at LG Display.

Nam's downfall comes just one week after Nokia (NYSE:NOK) replaced CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo with Microsoft executive Stephen Elop--Kallasvuo's departure highlights the struggles large handset makers have had in keeping pace with smaller but powerful rivals like Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), HTC and Motorola (NYSE:MOT) in the white-hot smartphone market.

LG still holds the No. 3 ranking among global handset makers, but its smartphone market share is tiny--1.2 percent in the second quarter, according to Gartner. LG's handset unit posted an operating loss of $101 million in the quarter, a dramatic reversal of the $524 million profit it recorded in the year-ago period.

The company is banking on the success of its Optimus One Android phone, which it said this week soon will be available in 90 countries on more than 120 carriers in Europe and Asia. LG aims to reach 5 million smartphone shipments this year.

LG's ambitions contrast sharply with those of larger South Korean rival, Samsung, which said earlier this month that it expects to ship 25 million smartphones this year, up from a previous target of 18 million. That earlier target, announced in February, was itself triple the number of smartphones Samsung shipped in 2009.

For more:
- see this WSJ article (sub. req.)
- see this Reuters article
- see this FT article

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