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Typo Leads Samsung to Distribute $105 Billion in Stock That Does Not Exist

Chris Gaetano
Published Date:
Apr 13, 2018

If you ever needed a reason to check for typos before hitting send, it's this: Samsung has accidentally distributed $105 billion in stock that, technically, does not exist, according to Bloomberg. The company originally intended to award employees ₩1,000 (about 93 U.S. cents) per share in dividends as part of a company compensation plan, but a "fat finger error" (a fancy finance way of saying 'typo') instead caused all those employees to get, instead, 1,000 shares in Samsung Securities, a financial investment company that's owned by electronics giant Samsung. This led to the distribution of 2.83 billion shares worth more than 30 times the company's total market value. 


It gets worse from there. Because the shares were awarded based on a typo instead of a deliberate awarding of actually existing securities, this meant the shares awarded to the workers didn't technically exist. However 16 employees sold them anyway, which in turn, led those who had actual stock to sell their shares too. Samsung's stock value lost 12 percent in the span of mere minutes. 

Needless to say, people are very, very angry at everyone who was involved: the company for making the mistake, the employees who capitalized on it, and the regulators who allowed the entire thing to happen. Samsung Securities, for its part, has promised to compensate any retail investor who had been holding company shares prior to 9:35 a.m. on April 6, when the first sale of ghost shares took place, and ended up selling those shares as prices plummeted. They will use the intraday high price from that day. 

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