Samsung reportedly sold all of ASML shares, likely to fund HBM and 3nm endeavors

Amy Fan, Taipei, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Credit: Samsung

South Korean industry sources suggest that Samsung Electronics is divesting all of its remaining ASML shares, expecting to realize profits eight times the initial investment amount. The funds obtained from this divestment are likely to be reinvested in the emerging semiconductor sector.

According to various sources, including South Korean media ET News, Samsung sold off its entire stake in ASML during the fourth quarter of 2023, intending to channel the proceeds into the burgeoning semiconductor sector. As per the latest data submitted by Samsung to South Korean regulatory authorities, Samsung held approximately 1.58 million shares of ASML in the third quarter of 2023, but by the end of the fourth quarter of the same year, Samsung had divested all of its holdings.

In 2012, Samsung invested KRW700 billion to acquire about 3% of ASML shares. Approximately four years later, in 2016, Samsung sold half its stake, fetching around KRW600 billion. In August 2023, reports surfaced again that Samsung began to divest half of its remaining ASML holdings, yielding around 3 trillion Korean won. At that time, according to Samsung's half-year report for 2023, it was revealed that Samsung's ownership of ASML shares had decreased from over 6.29 million shares in the first quarter of 2023 to over 2.75 million shares by the end of the second quarter, with its ownership percentage dropping from 1.6% to 0.7%.

Furthermore, based on the market value of ASML disclosed by Samsung, the total proceeds from the sale of shares are roughly estimated to be around KRW6.1 trillion. This implies that the disposal amount for stocks in 2023 is approximately KRW5.5 trillion, in addition to the KRW600 billion obtained in 2016. In other words, it is speculated that Samsung has achieved a return of approximately eight times its initial investment of KRW700 billion.

Samsung's "clearing out" of its ASML holdings is interpreted as Samsung's intention to recover its investment and raise funds for new ventures. Additionally, with ASML's continuous expansion, Samsung has chosen to divest its holdings rather than continue to hold them. However, most analysts believe that Samsung's divestment will not affect the collaboration between the two companies.

Despite Samsung's underperformance in the semiconductor sector in 2023, the company is still not expanding its investment in high-bandwidth memory (HBM) or advanced processes below 3 nanometers. Samsung's capital expenditures and research and development in 2023 remained at historically high levels, at KRW53.1 trillion and KRW28.3 trillion.