Lees' Samsung reign to continue

The global community is closely watching Samsung Group, the country's largest conglomerate, after it handed over its chemical and defence units to Hanwha Group.

Samsung said the move was aimed at streamlining its portfolio ahead of ushering in a new era of management.

And on Thursday, Samsung Group's de facto holding company Cheil Industries made a successful debut on the stock market with its shares closing at double the initial public offering price. The IPO was also part of the company's restructuring.

Samsung Group chairman, Lee Kun-hee

Samsung Group vice-chairman, Lee Jay-yong

This has made Samsung Electronics vice chairman Lee Jay-yong the second-richest person in the country in terms of stock value, following his father Lee Kun-hee, the chairman of Samsung Group.

In other words, the Samsung reign is likely to continue in the future.

Cheil ready to take the helm

As the de facto holding company of Samsung Group, Cheil Industries is at the apex of the group's corporate cross-shareholding structure.

This means Cheil Industries - which is 45.5 per cent owned by the group chairman's family - is more or less the backbone of the company.

When the company went public on Thursday, its officials and analysts said that the IPO would give fresh momentum to the group's efforts to restructure itself in line with a holding firm system - expected to be adopted next year - with Cheil Industries at the centre of the reorganised group.

As the largest shareholder of the group's de facto holding company with 25.1 per cent of the shares, it is likely that the company vice chairman Lee Jay-yong will be able to take control of Samsung Group in the future.

After Cheil's IPO, the value of the total shares held by the junior Lee soared to 7.7 trillion won (S$9.23 billion), increasing fivefold compared to only a year ago, according to the local corporate financial information provider FNGuide.

This is about 1 trillion won higher than the value of shares held by AmorePacific chairman Suh Kyung-bae, who ranked third on the list with 6.14 trillion won.

Suh was followed by Hyundai Motor Group chairman Chung Mong-koo, Hyundai Motor vice chairman Chung Eui-sun and SK Group chairman Chey Tae-won, who all had at least 2 trillion won less in terms of shareholdings than the junior Lee.

Meanwhile, the group chairman Lee Kun-hee maintained his position as the nation's richest business tycoon, with his share value increasing to 12.19 trillion won.

However, industry watchers are expecting to see the power succession become mapped out at least by the second half of next year as the chairman is still recuperating in hospital after a heart attack in May.

At any rate, the father and son are expected to stay on top of the list of Korean superrich.

Samsung daughters rise to the occasion

The power succession at Samsung will not end with father and son; it extends to Lee Kun-hee's two daughters - Hotel Shilla president Lee Boo-jin and Cheil Industries president Lee Seo-hyun.

Their names were included on Forbes' list of billionaires before, but the rankings were unofficial because they did not have any listed shares. Things are different now.

After the IPO of Cheil Industries, they ranked at the top on the list of female superrich in terms of stock assets since they are major shareholders of the company along with their brother.

The holding assets of the nation's new top two female superrich currently stand at about 2.22 trillion won, up from 1.95 trillion won on the day of the Cheil IPO, according to FnGuide.

This is a result of the stock value increase of both Cheil Industries and Samsung SDS, in which the sisters have a 7.75 per cent and 3.9 per cent stake, respectively.

Their assets were greater than those of their aunt, Shinsegae Group chairwoman Lee Myung-hee, with 1.43 trillion won as well as their mother Hong Ra-hee with 1.35 trillion won. Industry watchers believe the shift in wealth indicates that Samsung is ready to see new women business leaders.

The gap becomes more pronounced when compared to the sisters' cousin Chung Yu-kyung, vice president of Shinsegae Group. She currently holds 199.9 billion in assets from shares in Shinsegae and E-Mart, but this amount is far less than the assets owned by the Lee sisters.

If the stock value of Samsung SDS and Cheil Industries climbs further in the future, their assets are expected to rise even more.