South Korea ordered to pay Elliott about $109 million total over 2015 Samsung merger

By Joyce Lee

SEOUL (Reuters) -The South Korean government has been ordered to pay hedge fund Elliott about $108.5 million, Elliott and the Ministry of Justice said on Tuesday, in an dispute settlement case stemming from the 2015 merger of two Samsung affiliates.

The tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague partly accepted Elliott Investment Management’s claim for about $770 million, after the U.S. activist fund sued the South Korean government for the state-run National Pension Service’s (NPS) role in approving the $8 billion merger between Cheil Industries and Samsung C&T.

Elliott was a minority stakeholder in Samsung C&T and opposed the deal, deeming the terms of the merger unduly unfavourable to the company.

The NPS, which approved the merger, held a larger stake in Samsung C&T and was viewed as a casting vote.

In 2022, South Korea’s Supreme Court confirmed a jail sentence for Moon Hyung-pyo, a former health and welfare minister, for pressuring the NPS into approving the merger in connection with a corruption scandal involving former South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who was removed from office.

The arbitration tribunal ordered the South Korean government to pay Elliott about $53.6 million in damages, plus delayed interest, as well as $28.9 million in legal fees, the justice ministry said, without elaborating.

The ministry said it would announce its future plans later. Elliott welcomed the decision in a statement, and urged South Korea to “pay the ultimate award rather than pursue baseless legal proceedings to challenge the Tribunal’s decision”.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Sandra Maler)