Samsung’s Lee family incures $10.8 billion tax

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The family of late Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee said on Wednesday they will pay more than 12 trillion won ($10.8 billion) in inheritance taxes for his estate and donate his vast private art collection to state curators.

Lee, who is credited with transforming Samsung into the world’s largest smartphone and memory chip maker, died on Oct. 25 with an estate valued at around 26 trillion won.

The Lee family’s handling of the hefty inheritance tax bill – one of the largest-ever in Korea and globally – has been closely watched as it could have resulted in the dilution of the family’s controlling stake in Samsung.

There was also significant public interest amid calls for Lee’s $1.76 billion art collection to stay in South Korea, and reports the family planned to make a large donation to make reparations for Lee’s conviction on tax evasion and embezzlement charges over a decade ago.

The family said they planned to pay the tax bill over a period of five years in six instalments, starting this month.

Shares in Samsung C&T shares dropped as much as 5.5%, however, as the statement provided no detail on how Lee’s shares would be distributed, if any shares would be sold, nor specifics on how the family planned to fund the payments.

Investors will instead need to wait for regulatory filings to discover changes in shareholdings by Lee’s son and Samsung Electronics vice chairman Jay Y. Lee or other family members.

The family had been discussing using shares in affiliated companies as collateral for personal loans to pay part of the tax bill to avoid the sale of their Samsung holdings.

Analysts have said the family is likely to use loans and dividends from both their own and Lee’s shares to pay the tax.

Lee’s shareholdings included a 4.18% stake in Samsung Electronics, 0.08% of Samsung Electronics preferred shares, 20.76% of Samsung Life Insurance, 2.88% of Samsung C&T, and a 0.01% stake in Samsung SDS.

Samsung C&T is the de facto holding company of Samsung conglomerate, of which Jay Y. Lee is the largest shareholder with 17.33% stake.

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