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S. Korean firms' stock repurchase spikes 72 pct in 2015

All News 14:27 January 26, 2016

SEOUL, Jan. 26 (Yonhap) -- Share buybacks by South Korea's listed firms surged over 72 percent from a year earlier in 2015, data showed Tuesday, amid a government call for the companies to return more of their profits to shareholders.

According to data from the Korea Exchange (KRX), operator of the Seoul bourse, 209 listed firms bought back some 10.59 trillion won (US$8.81 billion) worth of their own shares last year.

The amount marks a 72.3 percent jump from a year earlier.

Stock repurchases are considered a way of returning money to shareholders while also reducing the company's outstanding equity. Share buybacks also often result in a rise in stock prices.

In 2015, 78 local firms listed on the benchmark KOSPI market repurchased some 10.13 trillion won worth of their own shares while 131 companies listed on the tech-heavy KOSDAQ market reacquired 458 billion won worth of their own shares, according to the KRX.

Tech giant Samsung Electronics led the on-year increase, repurchasing 4.2 trillion won worth of its own shares, while SK Corp., the de-facto holding company of energy and telecom giant SK Group, bought back 900 billion won worth of its own shares.

Meanwhile, the KRX said the amount of shares disposed of by listed firms here dropped significantly from a year earlier in 2015, apparently as less companies saw a need to improve their financial stability.

On the KOSPI market, 84 listed firms disposed of some 3.3 trillion won worth of their own shares last year, down 10.5 percent from the previous year, while 221 companies listed on the KOSDAQ market disposed of 828 billion won worth of their own shares, marking a 1.9 percent on-year drop.
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