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Samsung heirs commit $13-billion shares to buy time for tax bill

Most of the Samsung stock is parked with a court as collateral for the inheritance tax levy of more than 12 trillion won ($10.1 billion)

Samsung

Samsung Group’s heirs have pledged stock worth more than $13 billion in one of the world’s largest collateral commitments, mostly to buy time to pay a massive inheritance tax bill.

Since April, Jay Y. Lee and his family have committed part of their stakes in four of the conglomerate’s firms, including Samsung Electronics Co. and de-facto holding company Samsung C&T Corp., filings show. Among the 500 members of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, only Oracle Corp.’s Larry Ellison has pledged more shares.

Most of the Samsung stock is parked with a court as collateral for the inheritance tax levy of more than 12 trillion won ($10.1 billion). The heirs of Lee Kun-hee, the group’s patriarch who died last year, revealed in April they would settle the bill in six installments over five years. “It’s the best way for the Samsung family to pay the huge tax,” said Chung Sun-sup, chief executive officer of corporate-analysis firm Chaebul.com in Seoul. “The easiest way would be cashing in their stakes, but they wouldn’t want to reduce their ownership. Pledging shares for tax installments doesn’t affect their voting rights.”

The arrangement is relatively common among the rich in South Korea, where the death tax rate can be as high as 60%. In order to pay in installments, the law requires collateral worth 120% of the amount due. The sum is decided based on the closing stock prices the day before an agreement is made.

The Lees have deposited stock that is now worth $10.7 billion with the Seoul Western District Court, the filings show.