Lee will instead continue to run Samsung Electronics with the title of vice-chairman, though its board will stay central to overall management, the person added.
Lee may be pre-empting a backlash over his re-seeking a board position – which requires shareholder approval – while contesting a months-long legal case.
When Lee joined the board in 2016, it was deemed a symbolic move to step out from under the shadow of his ailing father and consolidate his power over Samsung. His ascension was intended to shore up his position as a leader who drives strategic initiatives such as mergers and acquisitions.
Yet months later, Lee’s fortunes reversed. Caught up in a nationwide scandal, Lee spent about a year in prison battling accusations that he offered horses and funds to a confidante of then-president Park in return for support of a 2015 merger that cemented his control over the Samsung group.
Lee, the only son of chairman Lee Kun-hee, will remain Samsung’s overseer for the time being, grappling with a laundry list of tasks including steering Samsung through a severe industry downturn.
The company’s operating income fell more than 50 per cent in the September quarter, though that was less of a decline than anticipated.
As Lee has stressed in a series of press releases, the company needs to continue to invest in future businesses such as logic chips and even sixth-generation mobile networks to overcome growing uncertainty.