UPDATE 1-Samsung Elec Chairman Lee says to promote son

* Samsung chairman Lee says to promote his son

* Samsung shares close down 2 pct vs flat KOSPI (Updates with confirmation,details)

(Adds details)

SEOUL, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics Co 005930.KS chairman Lee Kun-hee said on Wednesday he would promote his son, Jay Y. Lee, a move that could eventually pave the way for the chief operating officer to take over the top job at the world's top memory chipmaker.

A Samsung spokesman confirmed online reports that chairman Lee responded by saying “yes” when reporters asked whether he planned to promote his son.

Lee, 68, made the comments while at a local airport on his way back from Asian Games held in China. He did not elaborate on his son’s new position. Media reports have said Jay Lee may become president.

The promotion would come only one year after his 42-year-old son was named executive vice president last year to take a newly created chief operating officer title.

Samsung traditionally announces annual management changes in mid-December and this year’s reshuffle comes as the company, also the world’s No.1 TV maker and No.2 handset manufacturer, faces sharply shrinking profit growth after record-breaking results in the first half.

Lee, South Korea’s richest man and the most influential business tycoon, returned as Samsung chairman in March, nearly two years after he stepped down following a legal scandal. He was granted a presidential pardon in late 2009 over a conviction for tax evasion.

Since his return, Lee has overseen record results, a strong turnaround in its weak smartphone business and announced record investment plans, mainly for chips, displays and solar energies, to stay ahead of the competition.

Shares in Samsung, Asia's most valuable technology firm with some $120 billion in market value, closed down 2 percent, lagging a 0.1 percent drop in the wider market .KS11.

Reporting by Miyoung Kim and Ju-min Park; Editing by Ken Wills