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Changes in share ownership show power transitions in chaebol: survey

Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong participates in a memorial service for his father, the late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, Monday. (Yonhap)
Samsung chief Lee Jae-yong participates in a memorial service for his father, the late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, Monday. (Yonhap)
Descendants of South Korea’s conglomerate founders have inherited more shares and strengthened their control on the companies in recent years, data showed Wednesday, indicating a generational power transfer within the family-controlled businesses.

According to local corporate tracker CEO Score, of all family-owned shares from 60 conglomerates, the percentage of the children’s shares in value surged to 43.6 percent as of October, up 9.7 percentage points from 33.9 percent in 2019.

The three children of the late Samsung Group Chairman Lee Kun-hee saw the greatest increase in their shares, surging a combined 38.6 percentage points to 72.9 percent.

Lee’s only son, Lee Jae-yong, held 13.6 trillion won ($11.6 billion) in shares as of Friday, up from 6.3 trillion won in 2019.

The deceased chairman’s eldest daughter and Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin and her younger sister Lee Seo-hyun, who serves as chief of the Samsung Welfare Foundation, held shares worth 6.7 trillion won and 6.3 trillion won, respectively, in the cited period.

The ownership family of Lotte Group ranked second, holding 100 percent of the company’s shares, up 29.1 percentage points from 2019. The list was followed by children from the family controlling Shinsegae Group with a 21.2 percentage-point increase, Hankook Tire up 18.9 percentage points and LS group up by 15.8 percentage points.

Members of 29 chaebol founders’ families this year also had received a combined 4.82 trillion won in stock-secured loans as of October, mainly to raise the funds they needed to inherit company shares.

By Byun Hye-jin (hyejin2@heraldcorp.com)
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