Lee speaks out against brother
By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics Chairman Lee Kun-hee made it clear once again that he has no intention to compromise with his older brother over a family inheritance feud, saying that Lee Maeng-hee was kicked out of his family long ago.
``Lee Maeng-hee was already been abandoned by the Samsung family. He is insisting that he is the oldest son of our late father. But none of the Samsung family, including myself, thinks he should be regarded as Samsung’s first son,’’ said the conglomerate’s chairman in a meeting with reporters at its headquarters in downtown Seoul, on his way to work early Tuesday.
``Decades ago, he strongly criticized my father in front of then President Park Chung-hee. He has no authority to speak out about the family-related matters,’’ the chairman added.
His comments came a day after Lee Maeng-hee blamed the chairman for aggravating the relationship between the brothers and always looking for his own gain in a statement released by his lawyer.
``The recent remarks by Kun-hee aren’t acceptable. I was very embarrassed. They were childish remarks and I think he is very greedy,’’ the elder brother was quoted as saying in a statement.
``I have no intention of controling all of Samsung,’’ he said. Lee Maeong-hee has filed a lawsuit asking for $623 million worth of shares in Samsung Insurance and Samsung Electronics from his brother.
The Samsung chairman is involved in lawsuits with his brother and sister over family inheritances.
The late Samsung founder Lee Byung-chull had eight children. He died in 1987 after passing direct succession to his youngest son Lee Kun-hee. He broke with the traditional Confucian practice of handing the reins of a business to the eldest son.
Samsung’s family-controlling system is currently guaranteed by a complex web of cross-shareholdings for Samsung Group and that system makes the conglomerate stronger.
The questionable disputes primarily revolve around Samsung Life, which raised $4.4 billion in the nation’s largest ever initial public offering (IPO) in 2010.
Out of the 200 million outstanding shares in Samsung Life, Lee Kun-hee is the single biggest stakeholder with around 41.5 million shares, or 20.7 percent, according to Samsung.
The 8.24 million shares requested by the older brother amount to some 19.8 percent of the chairman’s stake. The 2.23 million shares demanded by the sister represents about 5 percent.
The requests are truly unacceptable for the Samsung chairman because the crown-jewel of Samsung will fall if the demands are accepted.
``Sook-hee was a lovely daughter to her late father. But she didn’t get a warm response after she tied the knot with the Goldstar family,’’ said the Samsung chairman. Goldstar, now LG Group, also has an electronics business as its critical cash-generator.
Samsung and LG found deep trouble in 1969 after Samsung decided to run a consumer electronics business and Sook-hee was excluded from the family inheritance by Goldstar.
At that time, Samsung received conditional approval from the Korean government to run an electronics business after strong resistance from the LG family. Samsung vowed to export 90 percent of its total production. That was the only condition that it pledged to the government decades ago.
Sook-hee married with Koo Ja-hak, the current chairman of Ourhome, a food-making affiliate of LG Group, in 1957. Sook-hee’s husband is the third-son of the late LG founder Koo In-hoe.
``Because of those reasons, the late Lee didn’t look favorably toward Maeng-hee and Sook-hee. Again, Maeng-hee was excluded and Sook-hee was told by her late father that she wouldn’t reveive even one Samsung share two decades ago,’’ the Samsung chairman stressed.
``And that’s the end of the story.’’