Samsung’s assets rise 9.6 percent
By Lee Hyo-sik
Samsung Group, Korea’s largest family-controlled conglomerate, has further solidified its No. 1 status over the past year by outpacing second-placed Hyundai Motor Group in asset growth.
The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said Thursday that Samsung’s assets reached 255.7 trillion won ($226.3 billion) as of the end of 2011, up 22.5 trillion won from a year earlier. Hyundai saw its worth grow only by 17.3 trillion won to 154.7 trillion won over the one-year period.
SK Group, the country’s third largest chaebol, boosted the size of its assets by 27 trillion won to 136.5 trillion won, while LG Group’s assets jumped to 100.8 trillion won from 91 trillion won.
The combined assets of 63 private and state-owned groups on the FTC watch list rose 13.5 percent, or 235.7 trillion won, to 1,977.6 trillion won.
The anti-trust agency also said the 63 business groups had a total of 1,831 subsidiaries as of December, up 277 from a year ago, indicating chaebol continued to make inroads into new business sectors once dominated by small- and mid-sized enterprises.
Samsung Group had 81 affiliates under its wing, up three from 78, while Hyundai Motor Group slashed the number of its subsidiaries to 56 from 63 over the period. Hyundai’s major subsidiaries include top carmaker Hyundai Motor and its smaller affiliate Kia Motors. GS Group and Hanhwa Group also saw their number of affiliated firms drop in 2011.
SK group was found to have operated the largest number of subsidiaries at 94, up eight from 86 in 2010, followed by Daesung at 85 and CJ at 84.
Notably, CJ acquired Korea Express last year and the latter’s 15 subsidiaries became part of the entertainment and food-based conglomerate.
The FTC also said the overall financial standing of the country’s 63 large business groups deteriorated in 2011 as they had to borrow more to cope with a host of external and internal economic negatives, including sluggish domestic demand and the European debt crisis.
The average debt-to-equity ratio rose to 112.1 from 110.9 percent in 2010.
Compared to private sector counterparts, public enterprises saw their financial soundness worsen at a faster pace as they borrowed larger sums to finance a range of infrastructure and resources development projects. Their combined ratio jumped by 4.4 percentage points to 158.8 percent.
Korea Gas Corp. saw its debt ratio surge to 363 percent from 301 percent as it raised funds to acquire oil and gas fields overseas.
The agency said Halla Group and eight other private and state-run business groups will be subject to rules banning cross-subsidiary equity investments this year, pushing the number of entities targeted by the regulation to 63 from 55.
The National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, or Nonghyup, has been exempt from the equity investment ban as it was split into two divisions of a bank and an agricultural products distributor.
Under the rules, affiliates of business groups with assets exceeding 5 trillion won are not allowed to acquire one another’s equities.