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Samsung family to unveil inheritance scheme on Wednesday: sources

All News 18:03 April 27, 2021

SEOUL, April 27 (Yonhap) -- The scions of late Samsung Group chief Lee Kun-hee are expected to unveil their inheritance scheme Wednesday, industry sources said Tuesday, as the deadline to report their massive tax payment nears.

Samsung Electronics Co., the group's crown jewel, is expected to announce the plan, which could include donations of the late chief's art collections and distribution of his stock holdings.

Lee, who was South Korea's richest man, left more than 22 trillion won (US$19.7 billion) worth of assets, including stocks valued around 19 trillion won.

Lee's family members are estimated to pay around 12 trillion won in inheritance taxes for the late chief's assets. They have to report and pay inheritance taxes to local authorities by the end of this month.

Lee, who died in October last year at age 78, was survived by his wife, Hong Ra-hee, only son, Jae-yong, and two daughters -- Boo-jin and Seo-hyun.

This composite image by Yonhap News TV shows heirs of Samsung Group. From left are Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, Hotel Shilla CEO Lee Boo-jin and Samsung Welfare Foundation chief Lee Seo-hyun. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

The family has been reportedly considering donating some of Lee's art pieces to local museums and art centers which include national treasures and paintings from renowned artists, valued at around 2-3 trillion won.

The family could also give away Lee's wealth to society following his donation pledge in the past. Industry observers speculate that 1 trillion won worth of Lee's assets could be donated to the community through welfare foundations.

Such moves will reduce inheritance taxes for Lee's family, who are estimated to pay about 2 trillion won annually to receive the late chairman's fortune.

Samsung may also unveil the scions' ownership of inherited stocks.

Lee held a 4.18 percent stake in Samsung Electronics, 20.76 percent in Samsung Life Insurance, and 2.88 percent in Samsung C&T.

Industry insiders said the distribution of the senior Lee's stockholdings will likely favor bolstering the leadership of Jae-yong, the de facto leader of Samsung Group.

Jae-yong controls the group with a cobweb-like ownership structure linking Samsung C&T, Samsung Life Insurance and Samsung Electronics.

This file photo taken on Oct. 28, 2020, by joint press corps shows family members of late Samsung Group chief Lee Kun-hee at a funeral hall in Seoul. (Yonhap)

He holds only a 0.7 percent stake in Samsung Electronics but controls Samsung Group through his grip on Samsung C&T with a 17.33 percent stake.

On Monday, the family members reported to the authorities that they have decided to share the late chief's stake in Samsung Life Insurance, though they did not reveal how they will distribute the shares between them.

Industry insiders speculated that Lee's family members are likely to pay inheritance taxes in installments. They can pay one-sixth of inherited assets by the end of this month and pay the rest over the next five years.

They are likely to fund their inheritance taxes with stock dividends but could get bank loans, industry insiders said.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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