SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Card (029780.KS) said on Wednesday it planned to sell a 20.64 percent stake in unlisted affiliate Samsung Everland through a block deal or initial public offering, in a deal media reports estimate could be worth more than 1 trillion won ($928 million).
Samsung Card controls 25.6 percent of Samsung Everland, the de facto holding company for the Samsung Group SAGR.UL, and is required to lower its stake in non-financial firms below 5 percent by April next year according to Korean financial industry regulations.
The stake sale will be widely watched by investors as it could trigger big changes in the ownership structure of the Samsung conglomerate.
Amusement park operator Samsung Everland is at the top of the group’s complicated cross ownership structure and is a key shareholder of Samsung Life Insurance Co (032830.KS), which in turn is a major shareholder of Samsung Electronics (005930.KS) with a stake of some 7.2 percent.
Samsung Electronics is the top shareholder of Samsung Card.
“We are considering various options including block deals and an IPO but the timing of the sale has not yet been fixed,” Samsung Card said in a statement.
It said it had already sent invitation letters to investment banks for the deal and would select sales advisors soon.
Some analysts expect Samsung Everland to be listed eventually and become a holding company for the group’s electronics units such as Samsung Electronics and Samsung SDI (006400.KS).
Shares in Samsung Card jumped as high as 9.4 percent and were trading up 2.9 percent by 0030 GMT.
“News of the stake sale points to capital gains, which is positive for Samsung Card shares. We see it outperforming despite most financial shares tanking today,” said Hwang Seok-kyu, an analyst at Kyobo Securities.
The group’s restructuring has been widely expected as it braces for a ownership shift from Lee Kun-hee, chairman of Samsung Electronics and the second generation of the group’s founding family, to his three children.
Jay Y. Lee, the son of Lee and chief operating officer of Samsung Electronics, the crown jewel of the business conglomerate, is the biggest individual shareholder of Samsung Everland with a 25.1 percent stake.
Samsung’s restructuring drive started with Samsung Life’s $4.4 billion initial public offering in 2010, South Korea’s biggest ever share float.
The stake disposal plan comes after Samsung Card sold Samsung Group company stakes worth a combined 774 billion won in November. ($1 = 1077.250 Korean Won)
Editing by Jonathan Hopfner and Muralikumar Anantharaman