Samsung's Lee Tightens Grip Over Group With C&T Share Purchases

Lee Jae Yong, heir apparent to Samsung Group, strengthened his control over South Korea’s largest conglomerate after he and a family foundation increased their stakes in de-facto holding company Samsung C&T Corp.

The grandson of the group’s founder will buy 200 billion won ($161 million) in C&T shares from affiliate Samsung SDI Co., and a Samsung foundation headed by Lee will buy another 300 billion won of stock, Samsung Group said in an e-mailed statement. SDI, which is selling 5 million shares in total, will offer the rest to institutional investors, according to terms for the deals obtained by Bloomberg on Thursday.

The deal helps Lee increase his direct holdings atop Samsung Group’s ownership hierarchy while complying with an order from South Korea’s antitrust regulator to reduce cross-shareholdings by March. Such structures, commonly used by conglomerates including Hyundai Motor Group and Lotte Group, have been blamed for weakening corporate governance and contributing to South Korea’s financial crisis in the late 1990s. 

Samsung SDI is offering 1.7 million Samsung C&T shares to institutional investors at 148,410 won to 153,000 won apiece, or a discount of as much as 3 percent to the last close, the deal terms show. Citigroup Inc. and Credit Suisse Group AG are helping arrange the offering.

Separately, Lee also agreed to purchase 30.2 billion won of Samsung Engineering Co. shares to support the company’s efforts to stabilize its management, according to the statement. He will buy another 70 billion won of Samsung Engineering shares at a later date, it said.

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