SEOUL Feb 1 Samsung Electronics Co Ltd
Chairman Lee Kun-hee fended off a lawsuit by
estranged family members demanding he hand over billions of
dollars of shares in Samsung companies as a South Korean court
ruled in his favour on Friday.
Lee, 71, and Samsung Everland, a de facto holding company
for the country's largest conglomerate, were defending three
lawsuits by Lee's relatives seeking nearly $4 billion in assets
in Samsung Life Insurance Co Ltd, which sits at the
heart of the web of Samsung group shareholdings, and Samsung
Electronics, the group's crown jewel.
The lawsuit was unlikely to have deprived Lee of his control
over Samsung Electronics, the world's biggest maker of
smartphones, TVs and memory chips.
But a ruling against him would have diluted his holdings and
could have forced a reshuffling of the intricate shareholdings
across the Samsung group if he were to retain his grip.
It also came at a key juncture for the electronics giant's
successions plans, just months after Lee's son Jay Y. Lee, 44,
was promoted to vice chairman.
A judge at the Seoul Central District Court ruled that Lee
could retain more than $1 billion in Samsung Electronics shares
and another $1 billion in shares of Samsung Life.
Samsung Everland, a small zoo operator, was also allowed to
keep its $1 billion stake in Samsung Life. Lee will remain
Samsung Life's biggest shareholder with a 20.76 percent stake.
The lawsuits accused Lee of hiding from his siblings
billions of dollars in shareholdings inherited from his father,
Samsung's founder, while Lee countered that as his father's
chosen successor, he had free rein to transfer group company
Lee owns less than 4 percent of Samsung Electronics but
exercises substantial control over the firm and the 80 or so
Samsung companies through family stakes in Samsung Everland and
The trial coincides with rising public resentment toward
South Korea's powerful "chaebol" conglomerates, reflecting their
dominance in the economy and the widening wealth gaps in
($1 = 1085.4750 Korean won)
(Reporting by Ju-min Park and Miyoung Kim; Additional reporting
by Daum Kim; Editing by Edmund Klamann)