Samsung Responds To Investors’ Call For Change
South Korean electronics giant Samsung (SSNLF) has issued a response to pressure from investors seeking changes in the company. The company released a lengthy statement detailing how it was working to satisfy shareholders. In the statement, the company said it was looking at ways to optimize its long-term value.
Investors have been calling for the company to restructure itself. Activist shareholder Elliott Management has been demanding that Samsung split itself into a holding unit and an operating company. The firm has been calling for change at Samsung for several years now. Elliott, led by New York-based billionaire Paul Singer, says Samsung needs to return more cash to shareholders and restructure to become more transparent. Samsung’s current ownership structure consists of 58 affiliates bound together by cross-shareholdings.
The company announced that it would increase total dividends in 2016 by 30 percent year-on-year. That would raise the annual dividend amount to 4 trillion won ($3.4 billion). The company also announced that half of its free-cash flow would be paid out to shareholders in 2016 and 2017. Samsung completed a share buyback worth 11.3 trillion won earlier this year.
The company is also adding a new independent director with international corporate experience to its board, which now consists of nine Korean men. Elliott had sought three new independent directors. The company also announced that its corporate social-responsibility committee will be replaced by a governance committee made up entirely of independent board members.
The company says that it will bring in “external advisors to conduct a through review of the optimal corporate structure.” Samsung admitted that the options include “the possibility of creating a holding company structure.” The advisory process is expected to take at least six months. The company was careful to add that the review itself doesn’t reflect what the company, or its board, intend to do.
The new changes fall short of what Elliott called for, but could be enough to appease some shareholders. A spokesman for Elliott didn’t respond to requests for comment. Samsung shares, which are up more than 33 percent this year, were unchanged at the close in Seoul. Samsung is currently South Korea’s most valuable company.
Pressure has been mounting on Samsung since the recall of its Galaxy Note 7. The smartphone recall has cost the company more than $5 billion. Two weeks ago, the smartphone maker spent $8 billion in an all-cash deal to acquire automotive technology company Harman International Industries Inc.
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