Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jae-yong, the only son of its ailing chairman, was nominated Monday to join its board of directors.
The announcement comes as the South Korean company grapples with an unprecedented smartphone recall that has wiped out billions of dollars from its market value.
It recalled 2.5 million Galaxy Note 7 smartphones earlier this month and urged consumers around the world to stop using the phone immediately as airlines and aviation regulators urged the same due to safety concerns.
In announcing Lee’s nomination to the board, the company said in a statement that the Samsung board believes that ”the time is now right.”
Rather than waiting until the shareholder meeting next year, ”his appointment now will allow him to more actively participate – and take formal responsibility – as a board member in important decisions such as the composition of the executive management team and strategic growth initiatives including M&A deals.”
The nomination signals a new era for Samsung under a third generation of its founding family.
Lee, 48, a Harvard-educated vice chairman at Samsung, is thought to have been making key decisions for Samsung since his father Lee Kun-hee, 74, has been hospitalized since he suffered a heart attack in 2014 and became unable to oversee the company.
He made national headlines when he publicly apologized for a Samsung-owned hospital’s failure to contain the Middle Eastern respiratory syndrome in a live TV broadcast in 2015. It was his public debut as Samsung’s de facto leader.