The Korea Herald


Corporate rankings for 2021 reflect impact of contactless trend, M&A deals

By Bae Hyunjung

Published : Feb. 10, 2021 - 15:14

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Samsung Electronics (Yonhap) Samsung Electronics (Yonhap)
After a year of the COVID-19 pandemic, South Korea’s conglomerates saw some fluctuations in their asset rankings, reflecting the impact from major mergers and acquisitions and from the contactless business trend, industry data showed Wednesday.

While the top seven business groups remained largely unchanged, those in transportation and heavy industries expanded their assets on the back of M&A deals. Also, biopharmaceuticals and IT players climbed up the ladder on the back of social distancing rules.

According to data compiled by corporate tracker CEO Score, the total assets owned by the country’s top 64 conglomerates are worth an estimated 2,261.9 trillion won ($2.03 trillion) this year.

The latest assessment was based on the Fair Trade Commission’s statistics as of September last year, counting in the M&As and spinoffs thereafter.

Of the groups, market bellwether Samsung Group maintains its unrivaled lead with 440.42 trillion won in assets, up 15.57 trillion won from a year earlier.

Hyundai Motor Group and SK Group are next, with 243.68 trillion won and 232.37 trillion won in respective total assets.

LG Group retains fourth position, despite the anticipated spinoff of its non-electronics affiliates as early as March after a shareholders meeting.

The business group decided last year to establish a new holding company under the leadership of Koo Bon-joon -- uncle of current group Chairman Koo Kwang-mo and younger brother of late Chairman Koo Bon-moo.

But even after breaking away from LG Hausys, LG International, LG MMA and Silicon Works, the group is expected to see an increase in assets, the corporate tracker suggested.

Looking at the list of runners-up, M&A deals were the game changer.

Hyundai Heavy Industries Group, which has the world’s largest shipbuilder, HHI, will likely rise to No. 8, reflecting its recent decision to acquire a 34.97 percent stake in Doosan Infracore for 850 billion won.

Hanjin Group, which owns the nation’s flagship air carrier Korean Air, will rise to No. 11, up three notches from a year earlier, after acquiring rival Asiana Airlines.

IT players such as Kakao, Naver and Netmarble all saw their rankings improve during the same period. Biopharma developer Celltrion jumped from 45th place to 25th as the group expanded its assets by over 5 trillion won over the past year, data showed.

Meanwhile, the FTC is set to announce in May its updated list of conglomerates with 5 trillion won or more in total assets.

By Bae Hyun-jung (