Samsung Electronics earmarking cash for growth, including M&A

Tue Feb 17, 2015 2:56am EST
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By Se Young Lee

SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics Co Ltd aims to use its $56 billion cash pile to fund growth including acquisitions, the tech giant's investor relations chief said, even as more shareholders clamor for bigger dividends.

While the South Korean company's profit declined in 2014 for the first time in three years as its lead in smartphones was challenged by Apple Inc, investors were cheered by a 40 percent dividend boost and its first share buyback since 2007.

But Robert Yi, Samsung's head of investor relations, signaled that shareholders should not expect the same in 2015 as the company keeps its focus on growth.

"Dividends and other forms of shareholder returns are responsibilities that the company has for shareholders, so we will make efforts to meet them. But our primary objective is growth and that is what we are communicating to our shareholders," Yi told Reuters in an interview.

Samsung has become an increasingly active shopper, striking 10 deals in two years. Even so, its purchases have been small, prompting calls from some investors for bigger deals to revive growth momentum.

"We are primarily focused on M&A deals for companies that would be good fits to Samsung's current businesses, and we believe that know-how and experience accrued from such transactions will make bigger M&A deals possible going forward," Yi said.

Samsung Electronics held cash of 61.8 trillion won ($56.14 billion) at the end of 2014.

Yi said more value fund managers had bought Samsung shares over the past year as its share price and earnings declined.   Continued...

A Samsung Electronics Galaxy Note Edge smartphone is displayed at the company's headquarters in Seoul January 7, 2015. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji