New female billionaire to emerge from Asia’s biggest divorce suit

Roh Soh-yeong demands 42.3% of husband Chey Tae-won’s stake in SK Holdings Co. (Wikipedia pic/Global Summit 2015)

SEOUL: A new billionaire woman could emerge from what may turn out to be one of Asia’s biggest divorce settlements.

Roh Soh-yeong, the wife of Chey Tae-won, South Korean conglomerate SK Group’s chairman, filed a suit Wednesday demanding 42.3% of his stake in SK Holdings Co, the Maeil Business Newspaper reported.

The shares Roh is asking for are worth US$1.2 billion based on Thursday’s mid-day trading price in Seoul and — should she win the case — the settlement would make her the second-biggest shareholder of the company after Chey.

Chey, 59, currently has a fortune of US$2.8 billion after excluding the shares he has pledged as collateral, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

An SK Group spokesman declined to comment. Roh, the daughter of former president Roh Tae-woo, couldn’t be reached for comment.

Chey has led South Korea’s third-largest conglomerate, which has business interests spanning memory chips to telecommunications, since his father Chey Jong-hyun, the brother of the late founder, died in 1998.

Chey sought a divorce settlement mediated by a court in 2017 but as the couple failed to reach an agreement, the case went back to a court, according to Yonhap news agency.

In 2015, Chey sent a three-page letter to local newspaper Segye Ilbo, revealing he had a child born out of wedlock and expressed his intention to split from Roh.

Moving on

In a Facebook post after filing her suit, Roh signaled she’s ready to move on after years of waiting with “hope” to patch the marriage up.

“But now I don’t see hope anymore,” she wrote in the post. “I now think it’s right to let my husband to go find the happiness he wants so desperately.”

Expensive divorces have created enormous fortunes in other parts of the world. MacKenzie Bezos and Inc founder Jeff Bezos divorced earlier this year, leaving her with a 4% stake.

That makes her the world’s fifth-richest woman with a net worth of $35.4 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

Chey and Roh met while studying at the University of Chicago and married the same year Roh’s father was inaugurated as president of South Korea in 1988, local media had reported then. They have a son and two daughters.

Roh said in her Facebook post that she will dedicate the rest of her life to “ways to contribute to the society.”