Samsung Elec, affiliates fined $207 million over cafeteria contracts

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Samsung Electronics is seen at its office building in Seoul, South Korea South Korea, October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Electronics and four affiliates have been fined 234.9 billion won ($207 million) for giving affiliate Samsung Welstory in-house cafeteria contracts since 2013 and ensuring a high profit margin, the Korea Fair Trade Commission (KFTC) watchdog said on Thursday.

Samsung Electronics said in a statement that there was no unfair support, the company strove to provide quality meals for its staff, and that it plans to show that the contracts were normal transactions by disputing the KFTC's decision in administrative litigation after review.

Samsung Welstory, a meal provider for cafeterias, is wholly owned by Samsung C&T, of which Samsung Electronics vice chairman Jay Y. Lee held a 18.1% stake as of May.

KFTC said in a statement that Samsung Electronics and affiliates unfairly supported Samsung Welstory by entering into private contracts with it since 2013, without opening up the cafeteria operations to competition from other providers and on terms favouring Welstory.

The terms included guaranteeing Welstory's margins on food material costs, payment of fees, and automatic reflection of inflation and wage increase rates, the KFTC said.

($1 = 1,134.1700 won)

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; editing by Jason Neely)

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