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FSC to decide on major Samsung Life’s shareholders

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin and Samsung Welfare Foundation chief Lee Seo-hyun. (Yonhap)
Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin and Samsung Welfare Foundation chief Lee Seo-hyun. (Yonhap)

South Korea’s top financial regulator will give a ruling on whether the late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee’s two daughters -- Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin and Samsung Welfare Foundation chief Lee Seo-hyun -- are qualified to become major shareholders of Samsung Life Insurance.

This decision is expected to go in their favor, paving their way to become the company’s largest shareholders, industry sources said on Sunday.
The policymaking Financial Services Commission is slated to hold a meeting on Wednesday to discuss whether to confirm the bereaved family members‘ application for the change of the largest shareholder of Samsung Life Insurance, which was submitted on Apr. 26. 

The family had reported to the FSC that they have shared the late chief’s 20.76 percent share in the life insurer, with the eldest son, Jae-yong, who owns a 10.44 percent stake.

The second daughter Boo-jin and the youngest Seo-hyun received 6.92 percent and 3.46 percent, respectively, according to the company’s regulatory filing released on Apr. 30. 

Under the current regulations, a company’s major shareholders who are inheriting a large amount of stocks should pass the FSC’s eligibility assessment, to maintain their status as a major shareholder. 

Possibilities remain high for the FSC to confirm the family’s application as the two daughters reportedly met the authority’s requirements.

“(Boo-jin and Seo-hyun) have never been found guilty for violations of the nation’s financial regulations and fair trade acts or subject of tax punishment,” a FSC official said. 

Meanwhile, the qualification reviews for Jae-yong, the largest individual shareholder of Samsung Life Insurance, will be held separately later this year, the official he added. He currently holds a 0.7 percent stake in Samsung Electronics and a 17.97 percent stake in Samsung C&T. 

The late Samsung chairman, who built the country’s largest conglomerate, died in October last year at aged 78, more than six years after being hospitalized for a heart attack in 2014. He held a 4.18 percent stake in Samsung Electronics and 2.88 percent in Samsung C&T. He left behind assets amounting to more than 22 trillion won ($19 billion), including stocks estimated at around 19 trillion won.

By Choi Jae-hee (cjh@heraldcorp.com)
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