A complicated merger of two companies owned by Samsung has been roiled by charges of “Jewish money” working against the deal.
Samsung C&T, a construction company that is part of the corporate empire under the control of Samsung Group, are set to vote on a merger with Cheil Industries, another Samsung subsidiary. Samsung is largely controlled by a single family — the Lee family — in South Korea and the merger is meant to continue the process of consolidating that control over the Samsung family of companies.
But there has been opposition to the merger, with the most outspoken opponent being Elliott Associates, which owns 7% of C&T. The owner and chief executive of Elliott is Paul Singer, a Jew, who believes the merger benefits the Lee family more than shareholders of both companies.
What happened next is probably thought about by many but rarely put into words:
What began as a duel between rival investors over the financial terms of a merger has transformed into a culture war, pitting the expectations of a diverse coalition of foreign and minority investors – western firms such as Elliott have been backed by local groups of South Korean populists and C&T investors, one of which was described by the Wall Street Journal as consisting of “2,500 retirees, professionals and others…following Elliott’s lead” – against the generations-old culture of family led conglomerates.
As the significance of the merger was magnified by these social and cultural tensions, some South Korean journalists began to note the fact that the most prominent rabble-rouser jeopardizing the merger, Elliott Associates, had a Jewish owner and chief executive, Paul Singer.
One South Korean news site, Mediapen.com, has been outspoken on the C&T-Cheil merger. At the time of writing, Wednesday evening, the site had no fewer than five articles about Samsung on its homepage, one a glowing profile of Samsung’s corporate leadership and the other four expressing support for the merger.
Among these was a Sunday column by journalist Kim Ji-ho (Korean-language link), who framed the Elliott-Samsung feud in stark terms.
“Jews are known to wield enormous power on Wall Street and in global financial circles,” Kim began. “It is a well-known fact that the US government is swayed by Jewish capital.”
Railing against Institutional Shareholder Services, or ISS, a proxy advisory firm that published an analysis of the merger that agreed with Elliott’s claims of C&T’s undervaluation, Kim explained to Mediapen’s readers that ISS was moved to side with Elliott because both represented “Jewish money.”
“The rationale for the assumption that ISS will be supportive of Elliott’s claims is that ISS, like Elliott, is founded upon Jewish money. Elliott’s CEO is Paul Singer, a Jew. ISS is an affiliate of MSCI, which is owned by Jewish major shareholders,” he wrote. And he added: “ISS’s opposition to the merger can be interpreted along the lines of Jewish alliance. Jewish money has long been known to be ruthless and merciless.”
“Ruthless and merciless”? Sounds like the bigot got his ideas from the Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the nauseating screed forged by a Russian intelligence agent in 1903 which purported to be plans for a Jewish takeover of the world.
And then there was a picture of Singer on the website with this caption:
The vitriol in Kim’s column is pervasive. In a caption under Singer’s picture, the Jewish investor is described as a “greedy, ruthless head of a notorious hedge fund.”
Julius Streicher couldn’t have said it better in the pages of Der Sturmer.
Samsung has a close relationship with Mediapen, and the sentiments expressed by Kim may have been channeled through the Lee family. The point being, myths and stereotypes about Jews are still prominent in many places in the world. You just don’t expect to see it among the titans of business.