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Samsung staff brace for job cuts

Shrinking margins, market share lead to frayed nerves ahead of annual reshuffle

Samsung’s market share has continually slipped over the past three quarters.
Samsung’s market share has continually slipped over the past three quarters.

Samsung Electronics employees fear sweeping job cuts as part of the South Korean company's annual reshuffle, online media reported.

Annual restructuring is traditional for Korean enterprises, even in prosperous periods, but in a year that saw the global smartphone leader's bottom line eroded by Chinese rivals selling cheaper and cheaper handsets, insiders say nerves are particularly frayed.

Samsung leads the world smartphone market in shipments, but Apple dominates the premium device segment. Samsung's lead comes from low- to mid-range offerings to consumers in emerging economies, but Chinese vendors, operating in the world's largest smartphone market, have produced phones more cheaply and Samsung's market share has continually slipped over the past three quarters.

Because of the plummeting numbers, some insiders speculate that mobile business head JK Shin may be fired.

"People are very uneasy," Reuters quoted one Samsung employee as saying. "Even the senior management are asking around about what might be coming."

As Samsung Group's long-serving boss, Lee Kun-hee, remains under hospital care, following a heart attack in May, his son, Jay Y Lee, has been in charge. Many await the restructuring details as a sign of how the younger Lee will run the company in the years to come.

South Korean business daily, the Maeil Business Newspaper, recently claimed Samsung could cut 20% of executive positions across the group, including 30% from its mobile division.

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