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Top biz groups hold money amid uncertainty

Aug 26,2019
Korea’s top conglomerates’ cash holdings increased around 8 percent in the first half of 2019 from a year earlier as they remained cautious about spending big on massive investment projects amid increased uncertainty, data showed Sunday.

The combined cash and cash equivalents held by 95 affiliates under the country’s top 10 business groups came to 242.2 trillion won ($200 billion) at the end of June, up 18.4 trillion won from a year earlier, according to Chaebul.com, a local industry tracker.

The increase came as local firms became reluctant to roll out new investment amid heightened uncertainty stemming from a protracted trade row between the United States and China, and more recently a similar one between Korea and Japan.

Their cash and cash equivalents also increased despite a fall in their bottom lines.

Their first-half operating profit by the major groups nose-dived 44.5 percent from a year earlier to reach 40.3 trillion won, according to the industry tracker.

By conglomerates, Korea’s top family-controlled business Samsung saw its cash assets increase 13.2 percent on-year in June to reach 119 trillion won, although its operating profit halved over the cited period.

SK Group’s cash assets also advanced 14.5 percent on-year in the first half despite a whopping 60.3 percent drop in its operating profit, the data showed.

Top automobile conglomerate Hyundai Motor Group’s cash assets, meanwhile, moved up 6.6 percent to 45 trillion won.

Its operating profit increased 18.6 percent over the period.

By affiliates, Samsung Electronics held the largest amount of cash at 99.3 trillion won, trailed by Hyundai Motor and SK Holding with 17.9 trillion won and 11.9 trillion won, respectively.

Yonhap