Samsung chairman’s wife emerges as key person in succession scenario

Vivian Kang, March 21, 2017, 10:05 a.m.


Hong Ra-hee, the wife of Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee, could become a key person in the ongoing succession scenario at the nation’s largest conglomerate, industry insiders said Tuesday, citing her stock value and legal procedures expected afterward.


Hong, the mother of Lee Jae-yong, heir to the South Korean tech giant, holds 0.77 percent of Samsung Electronics’ shares.

But according to civil law, Hong is entitled to inherit her spouse’s assets, which includes a 3.54 percent stake in Samsung Electronics and a 20 percent stake in Samsung Insurance -- 50 percent more than her three children.

Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong is the eldest and has two sisters Lee Boo-jin, president of Hotel Shilla and Lee Seo-hyun, president of Samsung C&T’s fashion unit, who are entitled to inherit their parents’ assets equally.

The legal right that offers more inheritance to spouses than children would make Hong the largest shareholder as an individual over Samsung affiliates, according to Chaebul.com, a local corporate tracker.

She would have shares in Samsung Electronics worth 4 trillion won ($3.57 billion) in addition after inheritance, it added, suggesting that she could play a crucial role in Lee Jae-yong’s attempt to expand control over the tech giant.

The value of shares currently held by the wife of the nation’s richest man has surged to 2.26 trillion won, a 64.4 percent increase, or 890 billion won, from a year ago, thanks to Samsung Electronics’ continuous rally in the local stock market.

Hong is now the seventh-richest person in terms of stock value from her previous rank of 23rd last year, according to Chaebul.com.

The value of stocks held by her children, however, all decreased from a year ago, it added. Lee Jae-yong holds 7.2 trillion won worth of shares in Samsung affiliates, while their father remained at the top with his stock value hitting a new record of 16 trillion won as of last Friday.

Hong emerging as a key person in the company’s controversial succession scenario comes amid her husband’s three-year hospitalization. He has been bedridden since a heart attack in 2014.

Earlier this month, Hong also stepped down from director posts at two art museums run by Samsung, citing private reasons. 

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