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AmorePacific head overtakes Samsung heir on superrich list

Suh Kyung-bae, chairman of South Korean cosmetics giant AmorePacific Group, has outpaced Samsung Electronics’ vice chairman Lee Jay-yong to become the nation’s second richest person, according to market data released Thursday.

Suh ranked 169 on the Bloomberg Billionaire Index, which lists the world’s richest people. Suh’s stocks were valued at around 8.8 trillion won ($8 billion) as of Thursday. 

Suh Kyung-bae
Suh Kyung-bae

Samsung heir apparent Lee was placed 182nd on the index. Lee’s father and Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee maintained the title of Korea’s richest person, ranking 84 on the index, with stocks worth 14.8 trillion won.

Suh’s rise comes less than five months after he first entered the list of 200 billionaires tracked by Bloomberg. So far, the AmorePacific chairman and the two Lees from Samsung were the only South Koreans who made it to the top 200 of Bloomberg’s billionaire list.

The sudden jump in Suh’s ranking is attributable to the soaring stock value of AmorePacific ― once a camellia oil-selling mom-and-dad store.

The company’s stock was valued at 3.3 million won per share Wednesday, reflecting a 51.7 percent jump from 2.2 million in late December. On March 20, it announced a 10-1 stock split to boost the number of shares in circulation, making the shares more affordable to retail investors.

Analysts said the makeup goods manufacturer had a significant leg up from rising demand in China and other Asian countries, largely due to spin-offs from Korean pop culture, which is gaining popularity overseas.

AmorePacific recorded 4.7 trillion won in total sales last year, of which 20 percent was from abroad.

The firm’s Chinese sales reached 467.3 billion won during the period, more than double the 190.9 billion won in 2011. Company officials said it has been less than three years since it began seeing a sales surplus in China, after entering the country in 1992. Its sub-brands, including Sulwhasoo, Laneige, Mamonde, Innisfree and Etude House, target upper-class Chinese.

By Suk Gee-hyun