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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
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.