Samsung Approves Controversial Takeover Deal

The takeover by fellow Samsung Group company Cheil Industries is widely seen as part of the preparations within the Lee family to transfer power from the ailing patriarch, Lee Kun-Hee, to his only son Lee Jae-Yong.

Sky News reports that as the handover could involve a huge inheritance tax bill running into the billions, the Lee family is said to be attempting to simplify its holdings and merge its interests where possible.

This particular takeover agreement, as well as consolidating the company, will give Lee Jae-Yong a significant stake in the wider conglomerate without the need for him to spend billions buying back shares from other investors.

Lee is a major shareholder in Cheil Industries, which is the Samsung Group’s de facto holding company.

By gaining control of Samsung C&T he will also acquire the 4.1 per cent stake it holds in the group’s crown-jewel, Samsung Electronics – which he would need to have some control over if he is to become the head of the Samsung Group.

The deal was controversial, however, as one of the main shareholders in Samsung C&T claimed it significantly undervalued the company.

US hedge fund Elliott Associates – which owns just over 7 per cent of the firm – said the sale was too favourable to Cheil Industries and tried to block it in the South Korean courts.

They were overruled in a judgement last week and the shareholder vote was allowed to go ahead.

But the outcome was by no means certain and Samsung C&T pulled out all the stops to persuade stockholders to vote in favour of the deal.

They took out front-page newspaper advertisements appealing to those with a stake, and even sent employees to the homes of shareholders to gift them with mango juice and watermelons.

In the end, the merger was given approval on Friday with 69.5 per cent of investors agreeing to it.

Just two thirds of shareholders had to approve the all-stock takeover for it to go through, meaning the deal passed with a narrow margin.