Samsung’s annual shareholders’ meeting today was roughly two hours and had all of the drama of a daytime soap opera. There were shareholders that felt the dividend was too low, others that wanted more money spent on Research and Development (R&D), others demanded an increase in public disclosure, how board members were appointed, and some felt the executives were paid too much and one, shareholder no. 1814, attacked Chairman Lee Kun-hee as being too extravagant in the past while traveling – using private planes, expensive resort hotels – when those funds should be used for the employees. He even had the nerve to say, “Chairman Lee probably won’t be able to spend all of his money during his lifetime,” as Lee, 73, is still lying in the hospital following a heart attack last May.
Even with all of this complaining going on, things went smoother than at other rival tech giants according to our source, where two investors asked Apple’s Chief Executive about buying Tesla – a high-profile electric car manufacturer – during a question and answer session…Cook dodged the question both times. In 2013, the media jumped on a story when Japan’s Sony was asked to sell a 15 – 20-percent stake in its entertainment group by hedge-fund investor Daniel Loeb.
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As of the end of December, Samsung’s top shareholders are the state-run National Pension Services with 6.7-percent and Samsung Life Insurance with a 6.6-percent stake. Even with revenues down this year, the shareholders voted themselves a 40-percent increase in their dividend payout for 2014 over their 2013 sum. No matter what shareholder meeting you attend, the shareholders always think that the executives are paid entirely too much money and travel too much…and when they do, it is always first-class.
The cries of spending more money in R&D is another ‘cure-all’ for increasing profits – the more you spend the better your product and that equals more sales and that brings about more profits. However, despite Samsung’s lower revenues, they spent a record amount on R&D in 2014. An audit report done on March 8, shows that Samsung spent $13.8 billion in 2014 – a 7.4-percent of total sales revenue on R&D. Their R&D spending showed an increase of 3.7-percent over 2013 and a report indicates that Samsung was the number one spender in IT companies during 2014.