South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission had said that Samsung Group must weaken or break three of its circular shareholding chains that it deemed had been strengthened by the all-stock merger in September.
The ruling concerns Samsung SDI’s stake in Samsung C&T Corp, which was formerly known as Cheil Industries Inc before it took the name of a sister construction firm it merged with.
SDI held stakes in both firms prior to the deal, and the FTC said the deal added shares held by SDI in three chains – two involving SDI and Cheil and another involving SDI and the construction arm.
This is against South Korean laws.
Samsung Group has until March 1, 2016, to either have Samsung SDI sell a 2.6 per cent stake in Samsung C&T, worth 727.5 billion won ($621.8 million) based on Thursday’s closing price, or break the three chains completely.
SDI currently holds a 4.7 per cent stake in C&T.
The ruling could weigh on Samsung C&T’s share price but will not endanger the founder Lee family’s hold over the firm or the larger electronics-to-fashion conglomerate. De facto leader Jay Y Lee and his siblings control nearly 40 per cent of the firm through direct stakes and shares held by other related parties, including affiliates.
Samsung C&T is considered a key vehicle through which the Lees control top affiliates such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and Samsung Life Insurance Co Ltd.
A Samsung Group spokeswoman said SDI would comply by disposing the 5 million Samsung C&T shares and consider options to minimise the potential market impact from selling the shares.
She did not elaborate on when or how the $622 worth of shares would be sold out. –Reuters