SEOUL, South Korea—A feud over the riches of South Korea’s Samsung business empire has erupted in public as family members prepare to take an inheritance battle to court.
Lee Kun-hee, chairman of Samsung Electronics Co.—the flagship company of the Samsung conglomerate—is facing off against his older brother, a sister and a nephew’s wife who all want a bigger piece of the Samsung pie.
The court battle will likely upset a dynastic succession in Samsung’s leadership, potentially unraveling a cross-shareholding structure that allows Lee Kun-hee to control the group as a minority shareholder.
Battles for control of Chaebol, South Korea’s family-controlled industrial groups that wield immense power over the economy, are not uncommon but it is unusual for the internal wrangling to become public.
Lee Meng-hee filed a lawsuit in February, demanding more than 700 billion won ($613 million) of shares in Samsung Life Insurance Co. and other companies. Similar claims followed by Lee’s older sister and the wife of a dead nephew.
Lee Kun-hee, the third son of Samsung founder Lee Byung-chull, was tapped in 1979 by his father to lead what would become South Korea’s most valuable company.
The 70-year-old Samsung chairman has refused to settle the dispute out of court. A date for the first hearing in the case will be announced after the court reviews responses from Samsung, said lawyer Jeong Jin-su of Yoon & Yang LLC, which represents the three plaintiffs.