Samsung boss hands son and heir vice chairman role -

Samsung Electronics has promoted Jay Y. Lee to vice president, a move that puts the current chairman's son closer to the top role.

Lee's father, Lee Kun Hee, has presided over the firm for the past 25 years, helping to grow the Korean company to one of the biggest consumer electronics companies in the world.

Lee, aged 44,  will be promoted from his previous role as chief operating officer at the company. His promotion to vice president is being seen as a "major step" towards the top role, a Samsung exec told Reuters.

"As Vice Chairman, Lee will build on his existing responsibilities and take a broader role in managing Samsung Electronics' businesses," Samsung said in a statement. "Lee will continue to play a critical role in transforming Samsung's business model - the set (product) business into one based on a platform and the component business into a total solution provider."

The move follows the promotion of Choi Gee-sung, known to be Jay Lee's mentor, to the second most powerful position at the company next to the chairman.  This was believed to pave the way for Jay Lee to eventually take the top job himself.

Although chairman Lee Kun Hee is keen to promote his son and heir into the role, the family running the giant corporation has been far from harmonious in the past.

The Samsung chairman has been sued by older brother Lee Maeng-hee, who claims to be the first of late Samsung founder Lee Byung-chull, demanding that he is owed more inheritance money.

Sister Lee Sook-hee has also been ostracised, apparently due to a relationship with a member of the family running the rival LG Electronics corporation.