SK Chief's Wife Wants Major Stake as Divorce Settlement

  • By Shin Eun-jin

    December 05, 2019 12:33

    The wife of SK chairman Chey Tae-won has filed a suit for a divorce settlement of a hefty stake in the conglomerate's holding company, according to legal sources.

    Roh Soh-yeong (58), the daughter of ex-president Roh Tae-woo, had previously refused to divorce her husband although they have been separated for over a decade, but she recently relented and now seems determined to take him to the cleaners.

    Chey Tae-won (left) and Roh Soh-yeong

    Roh has filed a counteraction to her husband's divorce suit seeking W300 million in alimony as well as 42.3 percent of his stake in SK Holdings, the parent company of the SK Group which gives her husband control of the publicly traded conglomerate (US$=W1,194).

    As of the end of September, Chey owned a controlling 18.44-percent stake in SK Holdings, and Roh is demanding around W1.39 trillion worth of stocks at their current unit value of W253,500.

    Seemingly oblivious to public distaste for the antics of the super-rich, Roh posted a lachrymose message on Facebook Wednesday saying, "I spent the past days trying hard to create and keep my family from falling apart, but I no longer see any hope. I think it is proper to let my husband pursue the 'happiness' he so eagerly desires."

    Chey lives with another woman.

    "Now I will look for a way to contribute to society," added Roh, who owns a gallery.

    The couple's divorce battle began in 2015, when Chey sent a letter to a newspaper admitting that his relationship with his wife had grown "far too distant for more than 10 years" and that he had met someone "who comforts his heart" and has a child with her. Chey filed for divorce in July 2017 and a formal trial began in 2018 after Roh refused to agree.

    Of greater interest to industry watchers is whether the asset split she wants could destabilize Chey's control of the telecom empire. Chey has enough shareholders on his side and does not face a takeover threat, but if Roh acquires a certain stake in the conglomerate, she could end up with considerable say in management.

    But SK insiders believe Roh's chances of winning are low since Chey inherited most of his assets and she played no significant role in multiplying them.

    Chey, who turned 59 this week, was apparently unaware that his wife filed the countersuit. Chey and Roh have two daughters and a son, while the chairman has one daughter with his common-law wife Kim Hee-young (44).

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