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Samsung revamps Asian operations

Samsung restructures its Asian units and reshuffles execs in a move aimed at sharpening its focus on emerging markets such as India.

SINGAPORE--Korean electronics giant Samsung has announced sweeping changes to its regional management team in a bid to sharpen its focus on emerging Asian markets.

Under the new structure, India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka--countries that previously fell under the company's Southeast Asian operations--will be consolidated into a new Southwest Asia group.

Samsung's Southeast Asian operations will now cover seven countries--Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

Kwang-Soo Kim has been reassigned from a Southeast Asian portfolio to head operations for the new territory. According to Kim, the move indicates the growing importance of emerging markets such as India, which will serve as the headquarters for Samsung's Southwest Asian region.

Market watchers have recently spotlighted India as one of the world's fastest-growing markets for handsets. According to research firm Gartner, the country's mobile subscriber base is expected to grow by 94 percent to 56 million this year. To tap into the projected boom, veterans such as Nokia, Sony Ericsson and Siemens, as well as newer Asian cell phone makers such as Benq and DBTel, have announced plans for the Indian market.

"Our goal is to be India's number one hand-phone seller by the end of 2004, and I am confident that we can achieve that," Kim said in a statement. India has been earmarked as one of Samsung's four key markets globally, the others being China, Thailand and the United States.

Meanwhile, Sang-Jin Park will take over as CEO for Southeast Asia, Samsung said. He was previously the executive vice president and general manager of the Mobile Communication Division in Korea.

"Management adjustments are part of Samsung's yearly planning cycle that adds a level of diversity and innovation to the company," Park said.

The leadership reshuffle also covers two markets in Southeast Asia. Jeong-Wook Kim, the former managing director of Samsung Malaysia Electronics, will head Singapore operations. He replaces Tae-Bong Choi, who has been promoted to vice president of sales and marketing for Samsung Thailand.

To fill the void in Malaysia, Jong-Duk Won has been named managing director. Won was formerly a senior executive with Samsung's global marketing operations in Korea.

Samsung confirmed there will be no structural changes to its remaining Asian operations, which include Japan, Korea and Greater China.

Winston Chai of CNETAsia reported from Singapore.