Samsung Electronics said today that its chief executive and vice chairman Kwon Oh-hyun plans to step down from management.
The move deepens concerns over a leadership vacuum at the tech giant after group scion Jay Y Lee was jailed for bribery.
The surprise resignation of Samsung's chip and display head came as he was expected to take a bigger role following Lee's arrest in February and the departures of other key executives in the wake of the bribery scandal.
The move came on the same day the South Korean smartphone maker forecast record third-quarter operating profit on the back of the memory chip business which Kwon was instrumental in building into the world leader.
Kwon, 64, is seen as Samsung Group number 2. As well as being chairman of the board and a board director, he heads the components business - including memory chips - and the display business.
In a statement, the man known as "Mr Chip" said the time had come to "start anew with new sprit and young leadership".
"We are fortunately making record earnings right now, but this is the fruit of past decisions and investments; we are not able to even get close to finding new growth engines by reading future trends right now," he added.
The world's biggest maker of memory chips, smartphones and TVs is set to smash its annual profit record this year, thanks partly to soaring demand for memory chips.
Semiconductors were Samsung's top earner in the three months to June, making a record 8 trillion won ($7.20 billion).
The global chip industry is undergoing a major shift with Japan's Toshiba partnering with home rival SK Hynix, and other firms consolidating in search of new growth areas like artificial intelligence and automobiles.
The departure of 32-year Samsung veteran Kwon after five years in the top job comes at a time of leadership uncertainty at the company.
Choi Gee-sung, Jay Lee's mentor, quit earlier this year for his alleged role in the bribery scandal, and Samsung Electronics now needs to fill several more key roles with Kwon's exit.
Kwon would serve out his term as chairman of the board and board director until March 2018, the company said. He is also not stepping down immediately from his two other roles.
While Samsung Group is South Korea's top conglomerate with businesses ranging from smartphones to hotels - it has had no 'Plan B' for taking big decisions following Lee's arrest, people familiar with the matter have said.