Family members of Samsung Group, South Korea’s biggest conglomerate, are selling stakes worth some 2.57 trillion won ($1.97 billion) to pay their inheritance tax bill, according to a regulatory filing on Monday.
Hong Ra-hee, the widow of the late former Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee, and her two daughters, Lee Boo-jin and Lee Seo-hyun, signed a trust contract with Hana Bank to dispose of stakes worth about 2.57 trillion won combined, on Oct. 31.
The Samsung heirs began their five-year annual installment payment plan in April 2021 to pay off one of the biggest inheritance taxes in the world, amounting to some 12 trillion won. The Samsung patriarch died in October 2020.
Hong, a former director of Samsung Museum of Arts, will be selling 0.32 percent of shares in Samsung Electronics, which is valued at about 1.34 trillion won based on the latest closing price of 69,600 won on Friday.
Lee Boo-jin, the CEO of Hotel Shilla, is selling her 0.04 percent stake in Samsung Electronics, equivalent to 167.1 billion won. Samsung Welfare Foundation head Lee Seo-hyun is selling 0.14 percent of shares in the company, worth about 564 billion won.
The Hotel Shilla CEO signed an additional deal to dispose of her stakes in other Samsung affiliates -- 0.65 percent share in Samsung C&T; all of her 1.95 percent in Samsung SDS; and 1.16 percent of Samsung Life Insurance. The combined value of the shares amounts to 499.3 billion won based on Friday's closing price.
The regulatory filing stated the purpose of the deal is to pay the inheritance tax, and would be valid until April 30, 2024.
Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Jae-yong, the late chairman's only son, has been paying off the tax bill via credit loans and dividends rather than using stock mortgage loans -- a move seen as maintaining firm control of the conglomerate as the controlling shareholder.
Lee has to pay about 500 billion won in inheritance bills every year until 2026.
As of June this year, the Samsung family members have paid about 6 trillion won of the inheritance tax, according to industry sources.
South Korea has one of the highest inheritance taxes in the world. For inheritance of assets worth 30 billion won or more, up to a 50 percent tax rate is applied to those assets. A 20 percent surcharge is imposed for the largest shareholders of large companies when they pass on their holdings, putting the effective top rate up to 60 percent.
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