Samsung’s Lee family uses short-term loans for inheritance tax payment Hong Ra-hee and Lee Seo-hyun take out $517 mil in loans due within three to six months

Translated by Ryu Ho-joung 공개 2021-05-10 08:24:58

이 기사는 2021년 05월 10일 08:05 더벨 유료페이지에 표출된 기사입니다.

Hong Ra-hee, wife of the late Samsung chairman Lee Kun-hee, and her daughter Lee Seo-hyun, head of the Samsung Welfare Foundation, took out short-term loans at high interest rates to fund the 2 trillion won first installment of a 12 trillion won ($10.8 billion) inheritance tax bill.

Hong raised a total of 1 trillion won in debt secured by her inherited shares in Samsung Electronics, with half of the amount borrowed from Woori Bank, Hana Bank and Korea Securities Finance Corp with maturities of more than one year.

The remaining half was taken out from Meritz Securities with a maturity of only three months. The loan’s interest rate was at 5%, much higher than the 2% range for the loans provided by the other three lenders.

Lee also took out loans worth 387.1 trillion won against her shares in Samsung C&T and Samsung SDS. The amount included an 80 billion won debt from Hana Financial Investment with a maturity of only six months and a 3.05% interest rate.

These short-term loans need to be refinanced or extended more frequently than longer-term loans. But the Lee family used them anyway, probably because many South Korean brokers are running close to their leverage limits, industry watchers said.

“Samsung’s Lee family needs to pay 12 trillion won inheritance taxes in six installments by 2026, which is a huge amount to be covered only by banks. I think that’s why the Lees chose to borrow money from brokerage firms as well,” said an industry insider.

“But it should have not been easy for the Lees to find available brokers because many of them are close to their leverage limits due to a recent debt-fueled buying binge by retail investors.”

The leverage offered by brokerage firms with equity capital of 3 trillion won or more cannot exceed 200% of the total equity capital, according to local regulations. For smaller brokers, the threshold is lowered to 100%, though many of them manage their leverage limits in a more conservative manner than required by regulations.

The 500 billion won loan provided to Hong by Maritz Securities is equivalent to more than 10% of the brokerage firm’s equity capital of 4.79 trillion won as of the end of 2020.

Some observers raise the possibility that the Lees used short-term loans because they are expecting proceeds from other sources.

“Typically, loans are structured based on a client’s personal circumstances and requests,” said an official at one brokerage firm in Seoul. “I think (the Lees) already have plans to repay or refinance the short-term loans.” (Reporting by Choong-hee Won and Su-jin Yoo)
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