(Bloomberg) -- The new head of Samsung Electronics Co.’s semiconductor division urged employees to work their way past challenges in the business, making his first remarks to staff after the surprise departure of his predecessor last week. 

Jun Young Hyun — a memory chip veteran who is returning to the company after leading Samsung SDI Co. — unexpectedly replaced Kyung Kye-hyun as the new leader of its most important business line on May 21. Jun, 63, expressed confidence the 74,000-plus staff can regain their success from the past with determination and hard work. 

“I am confident that we can overcome the recent difficulties as quickly as possible if we continue to build on the strengths we have accumulated so far and continue the culture of communication and discussion that is unique to semiconductors,” he said in remarks on an internal site seen by Bloomberg News.

Jun takes on his new role as Korea’s largest company is facing a series of challenges. Its semiconductor division lost about 15 trillion won ($10.9 billion) last year. The company has fallen behind rival SK Hynix Inc. in high-bandwidth memory or HBM chips, which have seen explosive growth because they are used for training artificial intelligence models like ChatGPT. The firm is also facing the first-ever strike in its 55-year history, which sent the stock more than 3% lower on Wednesday. 

“Especially now, in the age of AI, we are facing a future that we have never experienced before,” he said. “This poses a great challenge to us, but if we respond with the right direction, it can be a new opportunity for the semiconductor business, which is essential in the AI era.”

Investors have become increasingly concerned about Samsung’s response to SK Hynix, which recently reported its fastest pace of revenue growth since at least 2010. That’s propelled a roughly 40% rally in SK Hynix shares since the start of 2024, compared with a slump of about 5% for Samsung’s stock.

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