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Samsung chairman wins £500m legal fight with brother

Brothers decide 'familial and fraternal love' trump commercial dispute

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A legal battle that threatened Samsung's stability has ended after company chairman Lee Kun-hee’s brother decided not appeal a court decision against him.

Older sibling Lee Maeng-hee ended the two year legal dispute over their inheritance by accepting a Seoul appeal court’s decision to reject his demand for a 940 billion won (US$850 million, £510m) share of the pie.

"[Lee Maeng-hee] decided to give up filing for appeals [with the Supreme Court] as it is more important for him to keep relations with his family than to continue with the suit," noted a statement from his law firm, Yoon & Yang LCC, seen by Yonhap.

The claim from Lee senior had already been turned down by a lower court and back in January, Samsung Electronics chairman Lee Kun-hee turned down an offer of reconciliation from his brother.

“We decided that this is an issue that transcends familial and fraternal love and concerns the management stability of Samsung, which is a global corporation,” Lee Kun-hee’s lawyer said at the time, according to The Hankyoreh.

“Reconciliation would go against the last wishes of Lee Kun-hee’s father, Lee Byung-chul, and it would be a violation of principle.”

The decision will also apparently mean that Lee Kun-hee can keep his stake in various key Samsung subsidiaries.

Lee Byung-chul founded the chaebol giant back in 1938 but left most of his cash to second son Lee Kun-hee when he died in 1987.

However, Lee Maeng-hee’s beef was apparently that his younger brother took ownership of some stocks which their father had left in a trust under a third party’s name, prior to his death.

Although he revised down an original demand for over 4 trillion won ($3.7bn, £2.3bn), the courts and the Samsung chairman were unmoved.

The older Lee is not short of a bob or two himself, being former chairman of media and food giant CJ Group, but he now faces legal bills estimated at around 17bn won ($16m, £9.6m) and little hope of a rapprochement with his brother. ®

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