Samsung Group defied expectations of a shake-up at Samsung Electronics over its sagging smartphone sales, announcing no  top executive changes at the flagship affiliate in the annual management reshuffle.
               
The Group made 11 senior management appointments and changes in the yearly personnel review that is customary at South Korean conglomerates, but Shin, Samsung Electronics' semiconductor business chief Kwon Oh-hyun and consumer electronics head Yoon Boo-keun retained their roles.
               
"President J.K. Shin is a major contributor in Samsung Electronics' emergence as the top global player in the handsets business," Samsung Group Senior Vice President Lee June told reporters at a briefing, adding that Shin would be given an opportunity to turn the business around.
               
Squeezed by Chinese rivals like Xiaomi Technology Co Ltd  at the low end and Apple Inc's iPhones at the top, Samsung Electronics's share of the smartphone market has  shrunk year-on-year for the last three quarters, leading to speculation Shin may have been on the way out.
               
The personnel changes were seen as the first by Group heir apparent Jay Y. Lee, considered most likely to take control of the sprawling family business empire since his father, Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee, suffered a heart attack and was hospitalised in May.
               
"With Samsung undergoing major changes in the midst of the succession process, like selling affiliates and listing units, it would have been too unsettling to change leadership," Chung Sun-sup, head of local research firm Chaebul.com, said.
               
"And without a signal that Chairman Lee Kun-hee has stepped back for good, it might have been too much for Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee to change the people his father put in position."
               
Samsung Electronics will make a separate announcement on other management-level changes some time this week.
               
A company spokeswoman said the current structure of three key business divisions - consumer electronics, mobile and semiconductor - would remain intact.