Date
17 December 2017
Samsung Group vice-chairman Lee Jae-yong is trying to narrow the conglomerate's focus. Photo: Bloomberg
Samsung Group vice-chairman Lee Jae-yong is trying to narrow the conglomerate's focus. Photo: Bloomberg

Samsung heir makes mark with US$8 bln deals

Lee Jae-yong, vice-chairman of Samsung Group, is overseeing US$8 billion in proposed deals to narrow the focus of the South Korean conglomerate.

The company on Wednesday unwound holdings involving at least eight businesses, with flagship Samsung Electronics Co. buying US$2 billion of its own stock, Bloomberg News reported.

The group also disposed of stakes in chemicals and defense businesses, adding to mergers and initial public offerings announced since the patriarch Lee Kun-hee suffered a heart attack in May.

As his father recovers, the 46-year-old Lee Jae-yong is trying to streamline the group amid slumping earnings at the world’s biggest smartphone business and government curbs on chaebols.

“Samsung is transferring to a new generation and this is part of the group’s strategy to burnish Lee Jae-yong’s image and increase his visibility,” said Park Ju-gun, president of corporate watchdog CEOSCORE. “Lee Jae-yong must have made the final call on the deals in the absence of Lee Kun Hee.”

However, a Samsung spokesman said the vice-chairman didn’t play a leading role in the latest stake sale.

The stake sales and IPOs come as Lee Kun-hee’s three children face taxes of more than US$5 billion if they inherit his US$12.1 billion fortune. The family controls the group while holding only about 2 percent of its shares, according to Bloomberg.

Samsung Group is due to announce its annual management revamp next month, and the younger Lee may be elevated to chairman of Samsung Electronics, which contributes 70 percent of the group’s total revenue.

Samsung Electronics, with a market value of about US$160 billion, will buy stock from the market by Feb. 26, the report said.

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