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Samsung SDI to reduce its shareholding after FTC investigation

The antitrust watchdog in South Korea is of the view that the recent merger between companies under the Samsung Group’s umbrella has tightened cross-shareholdings between the companies, which is why it has ordered Samsung SDI to reduce its stake in the holding company. The Fair Trade Commission remarks that “The number of cross-shareholding links may have been reduced to seven from 10 following the merger of Samsung C&T with Cheil Industries (on Sept. 1), but we have found the ties have been further strengthened.”

Under the existing antitrust rules conglomerates are prohibited from creating new circular ownership among affiliated companies through equity investments. Therefore the FTC has said that Samsung SDI, the battery unit of the conglomerate, should reduce its shareholding in Samsung C&T by 5 million or 2.6% shares by March 1. Based on Friday’s closing prices the approximate value of these shares is about $622 million. Samsung has said that it’s not going to appeal the FTC’s decision, instead it’s going to ask the antitrust watchdog for a grace period considering the market impact of this decision. The merger between Samsung C&T and Cheil Industries was a part of the company’s efforts to further strengthen the owning family’s control over the group, it made heir apparent Lee Jae-young the largest shareholder of Samsung C&T with a 16.5% share with other family members and investors holding a combined stake of over 50%.

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