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New Samsung CEO seen as an Apple-friendly choice

The complicated corporate relationship between Apple and Samsung took a new twist on Thursday, when Samsung named a new CEO who comes from the company's semiconductor and LCD screen businesses, where Apple is the biggest customer.

Samsung currently builds the ARM-based processors Apple uses in its immensely popular iPhone and iPad devices, and Samsung is also the primary provider of Retina displays for Apple's new iPad. Those relationships between the two companies have led some to see the naming of Kwon Oh-hyun as a choice that could be favorable to Apple.

Kwon has been the head of Samsung's chips and display businesses, and under his watch Samsung became the sole supplier of mobile processors for the iPhone and iPad, Reuters reported on Thursday. Kwon, 59, also oversaw a restructuring of Samsung's LCD business.

The report included comment from one analyst, Lee Sun-tae of NH INvestment & Securities, who said it appears that Samsung is attempting to retain Apple as a customer, even though the two companies are bitter rivals. Part of that strategy could be naming Kwon, who was in charge when Apple became Samsung's biggest customer, the company's new CEO.

Samsung is also said to be planning to enhance its relationship with Apple by building more logic chips for the iPhone and iPad. That is expected to occur after Samsung switches a memory chip line in Austin, Tex., to non-memory production.

Samsung's previous CEO, Choi Gee-sung, will be the new head of corporate strategy at Samsung Group, which oversees 81 companies including Samsung Electronics. Choi has been with Samsung for more than three decades.

Choi was personally involved in court-mandated settlement talks with Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook last month. The two companies were asked to come together in an effort to settle a series of ongoing patent infringement suits each has filed against the other.

But the talks featuring both Choi and Cook in San Francisco, Calif., failed to result in a resolution. As a result, a patent infringement case between the two is scheduled to go to trial later this month.

Apple has continued its litigation against Samsung this week, as the iPhone maker filed a new motion seeking an injunction to block the launch of Samsung's new Galaxy S III smartphone in the U.S. Samsung responded by criticizing Apple for filing the motion "on two days' notice, without due process, and with no factual record whatsoever."