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Samsung's squillionaire supremo scuttles siblings' shares snatch

Lee Kun-Hee wins lawsuit at heart of chaebol power struggle

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Samsung chairman Lee Kun-Hee has won a lawsuit against his brother and sister to keep control of the electronics leviathan.

The victory in a battle over stock ownership means Lee, son of Samsung founder Lee Byung-Chull, will keep $3.7bn (£2.5n) in Sammy shares: a controlling stake in the company.

The chairman faced three lawsuits from his siblings who alleged that Lee hid shares that their father willed to them before he died in 1987.

Lee Kun-Hee's brother Lee Maeng-Hee and sister Lee Sook-Hee sought shares from him in both Samsung Life, an insurance branch of the firm, and Samsung Electronics, the sector that makes the globe's best-selling smartphones. Close relatives of his second-eldest brother Lee Chang-hee also filed a claim against Kun-Hee. According to AP, the court ruled that the 10-year window for making inheritance claims had expired.

Lee Kun-Hee is South Korea's richest man: his personal wealth is $8.3bn and he has control of Samsung through strategic minority shareholdings across Samsung's subsidiaries.

Lee's father Byung-Chull started Samsung in 1938 as a company selling dried fish and vegetables, and moved into electronics in the late 1960s. It went on to produce black-and-white TVs in the 1970s.

Lee Kun-Hee, the third son of Byung-Chull, took over the chairmanship of the company in 1987 after his father died. It was unusual for a younger son to take control, the Wall Street Journal noted, and became a source of family friction. In the 1990s he was responsible for Samsung's shift towards producing more quality products, a move seen as critical to its success.

He resigned in 2008 after he was convicted of tax evasion, but was reinstated following a presidential pardon. His siblings alleged they found out about the "hidden" shares when Lee Kun-Hee had to open his accounts in that 2008 investigation. ®

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