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Samsung heirs receive big dividends

By
Kim Hye-ran & Kim Tae-gyu, UPI News Korea
Former Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee (C) and his family members took part in the Consumer Electronics Show in 2010 in the United States. File Photo courtesy of Samsung Group
Former Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee (C) and his family members took part in the Consumer Electronics Show in 2010 in the United States. File Photo courtesy of Samsung Group

SEOUL, Sept. 27 (UPI) -- Samsung Electronics paid out the biggest dividends in the world in the first half of 2021, substantially enriching heirs of Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee, who died last year.

During the first six months of 2021, Lee's wife, Hong Ra-hee, secured $84 million in stock dividends, the most in South Korea, Seoul-based business tracker Leaders Index reported Monday.

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She inherited a 2 percent stake in Samsung Electronics, the group's representative affiliate after Lee's death on Oct. 25. He had been ill since a heart attack in 2014.

Lee Kun-hee's only son, Lee Jae-yong, vice chairman of Samsung Electronics, received $60 million in dividends, while his two daughters shared $34 million.

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Lee Jae-yong received half of his father's stake in Samsung Life Insurance to become the insurer's biggest individual shareholder with a stake of 10.44 percent.

The 53-year-old also inherited shares of other Samsung units to become the de-facto chief of Samsung Electronics, the world's biggest maker of memory chips and smartphones, thanks to the group's cross-shareholding structure.

Leaders Index said the dividends are likely related to the hefty inheritance taxes on the Samsung heirs.

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In April, Samsung Electronics said the heirs will have to pay $11 billion to inherit Lee Kun-hee's wealth. Some $9.2 billion will be paid in installments over the next five years.

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"Over the first half of this year, Samsung Electronics paid out the biggest dividends in the world. And I think that this would be related to the tax burdens of Samsung heirs," Leaders Index CEO Park Ju-gun told UPI News Korea.

"Along the same line, I expect that Samsung Electronics will sustain high payout ratios in the following few years," he said.

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During the January-June period of 2021, South Korean companies paid $7.9 billion in dividends. More than half of it came from Samsung Electronics, which gave out $4.2 billion, according to Leaders Index.

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