LG replaces the head of its struggling mobile business after just one year

Mobile

Mission impossible: a new executive at LG is charged with fixing the company’s long-time loss-making smartphone division following a leadership change.

Hwang Jeong-hwan took the job as president of LG Mobile Communications last October, and this week he LG announced that he will be replaced by Brian Kwon, who is head of LG’s hugely profitable home entertainment business, from December 1.

“Mr. Kwon played a critical role in transforming LG’s TV, audio and PC business into category leaders and his knowledge and experience in the global marketplace will be instrumental in continuing LG’s mobile operations turnaround,” LG wrote in an announcement.

The company said Jeong-hwan had “successfully bolstered the operation’s quality assurance and product development efficiency.”

Those are interesting words, none of them mention the crisis that has seen LG’s mobile business continue to post big losses. This year to date, it lost the wider company some $410 million, including a $130.5 million net loss in the last quarter. In contrast, Kwon’s unit was the standout performer of the quarter, generating total sales of 3.71 trillion RKW ($3.31 billion) and a 325.1 billion KRW ($289.9 million) profit

That burn rate was cut during Hwang Jeong-hwan’s tenure, but it seems like there’s still much work to be done. Kwon — who LG describes as a “turnaround expert” — will combine his new role at the mobile business with his existing position as president of LG’s Home Entertainment Company. Hwang Jeong-hwan will move on to lead the company’s “Convergence Business Development Office.”

LG has also shuffled at the top of the tree. CEO Jo Seong-jin will “focus more on strategy and planning for the future” with president and CFO David Jung taking over a number of day-to-day responsibilities. LG has also restructured its vehicle component and business services divisions.

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