x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Samsung heir beats brother in court

The chairman of Samsung has kept his control of the conglomerate after a South Korean court yesterday ruled against his older brother in an inheritance battle.

The chairman of Samsung has kept his fortune and control of the conglomerate after a South Korean court yesterday ruled against his older brother in an inheritance battle.

The case was watched because a ruling against Samsung's chairman, Lee Kun-hee, could have resulted in the unravelling of a cross-shareholding structure that allows Mr Lee control as a minority shareholder. He is South Korea's richest person with wealth of US$8 billion (Dh29.38bn), according to Forbes.

The high-stakes fight also highlighted deep discord between sons of the Samsung founder, Lee Byung-chull, who denounced each other in public as the battle unfolded last year.

Mr Lee's brother, Lee Meng-hee, wanted a bigger share of the Samsung cake but the court ruled that a 10-year period for inheritance claims had expired.

It also said there was not enough evidence to prove that dividends and proceeds from Samsung companies were intended as part of the inheritance from their father.

On the same grounds, Seoul's central district court denied inheritance claims from four other family members including Kun-hee's elder sister.

They sought 4.1 trillion won (Dh14bn) worth of stocks and cash from Kun-hee and Samsung Everland, a de facto holding company of the Samsung empire.

Meng-hee's lawyers said they would consider an appeal. Neither brother attended the court hearing.

The battle brought long-standing family resentments into the open, highlighting the struggles for control that can happen at the heart of the family-owned conglomerates that dominate South Korea's economy.

Kun-hee, 71, called his older brother greedy. Meng-hee, 81, described his younger sibling as childish.

Meng-hee, the oldest of three sons, was briefly tapped to lead Samsung but gave up the role that later went to his younger brother. Meng-hee lives in China and until the inheritance battle had kept a low profile. His son heads CJ, a food and entertainment conglomerate that has its roots in Samsung.

Before announcing the ruling, the judge said he wished the brothers would reconcile and live in harmony.

Samsung's vast business empire spans many industries including finance, chemicals and consumer electronics.

Samsung Electronics is the world's largest maker of smartphones.