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Samsung C&T CEO confident of winning votes on merger deal

Choi expresses confidence in winning votes at shareholders meeting

Samsung C&T on Wednesday expressed confidence in winning at a shareholders meeting on July 17, where its merger deal with Cheil Industries will be put to a vote.

The construction unit of Samsung Group also expected limited impact of Institutional Shareholder Services‘ stance on its merger with Cheil Industries.
Samsung C&T's headquarters in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. Yonhap
Samsung C&T's headquarters in Seocho-dong, southern Seoul. Yonhap

ISS is a U.S. advisory firm that evaluates corporate issues on behalf of shareholders and provides advice to vote on those issues. The international investor watchdog is expected to announce its assessment on the proposed merger between the two key Samsung units later this week.

“Even if ISS announces a negative assessment (on the merger), we will try our best (to make the deal go through). I’m sure our shareholders will support us,” Samsung C&T CEO Choi Chi-hun told reporters.

Asked if Samsung has found enough friendly parties to support the deal, Choi took a cautious approach, saying “(the outcome) can only be known after the votes are counted.”

The battle lines over the proposed merger hardened when U.S. hedge fund Elliott Associates opposed the deal, saying the deal terms are unfair and so damaged stock value of Samsung C&T shareholders.

The two Samsung companies have been making all-out efforts this week, with attempts at persuading investors and swinging public opinion to push through the merger.

At an impromptu investor relations session Tuesday, Cheil Industries said that it won’t change the conditions of the deal, but will instead offer more dividend payouts to investors -- gradually raising the payout ratio to 30 percent by 2020 from 21 percent in 2014.

The Samsung C&T CEO, who was also at the investor session, said he will pay more attention to the opinions of minority shareholders and that the firm will set out policies to benefit them in the future.

Samsung C&T CEO Choi Chi-hun surrounded by reporters (Yonhap)
Samsung C&T CEO Choi Chi-hun surrounded by reporters (Yonhap)

The real key to the success of the merger is in the hands of the National Pension Service, the largest shareholder of Samsung C&T with a 10.15 percent stake.

It is still unclear whether the state-run pension fund will support or oppose the two Samsung units’ merger deal. The fund voted against a similar deal made between two units of SK Group. The deal, howerver, passed through a shareholders’ meeting last week.

“I’m sure the NPS will make the right decision in the interest of the nation and the shareholders,” CEO Choi said.

By Suk Gee-hyun (