Samsung Electronics Co. and heir apparent Jay Y. Lee are reportedly facing rising pressure from investors for broad change at the company.
Samsung executives and Elliott Management Corp. have been talking with investors in the U.S. and Korea to sound out opinions on the activist investor's proposals to overhaul the Suwon, South Korea-based technology giant, Bloombegr reports.
Shareholders are voicing dissatisfaction with the status quo after Samsung's smartphone battery crisis that will cost at least $6 billion and has seen its offices raided twice as part of a widening political scandal in Korea.
Elliott, led by billionaire Paul Elliott Singer, has proposed that Samsung improve its corporate governance by adding three independent board members, list shares on a U.S. exchange, pay shareholders a special dividend of 30 trillion Korean won ($26 billion) and separate into an operating company and a holding company. Investors are beginning to express support for Elliott's ideas not just in private meetings but also in public.
Samsung said it plans to respond to Elliott's proposals by the end of this month.
Samsung completed a share buyback worth 11.3 trillion won earlier this year, and has committed to return 30 percent to 50 percent of free cash flow to shareholders for three years starting from 2015. If Samsung agrees to the split, it would probably give the controlling family more clout over the unit.
Artisan, which holds more than 1 million Samsung Electronics shares and has owned stock in the company for more than a decade, is among the Samsung shareholders that is coming out publicly in support of Elliott.
Aberdeen Asset Management Asia, which has been a long-term investor in Samsung, also thinks that Samsung can afford to return more profit to investors through dividends.