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S. Korean public firms' debt rose by most ever last year: gov't

Economy 18:42 April 29, 2020

SEOUL, April 29 (Yonhap) -- South Korean public firms' debt rose by the largest amount ever last year amid an economic slowdown, with their debt-to-capital ratio rebounding for the first time in seven years, the finance ministry said Wednesday.

The combined debt of 337 public institutions reached 525.1 trillion won (US$430.9 billion) at the end of last year, up 21.4 trillion won from the previous year, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

The tally did not include data by three state-run banks, including Korea Development Bank.

The yearly increase was the largest since 2005, when the government began to compile related data.

The institutions' combined assets grew 32.8 trillion won on-year to 861.1 trillion won.

The public firms' debt ratio came to 156.3 percent in 2019, up 1.1 percentage points from the previous year.

The 2019 debt-to-capital ratio marked the first rebound in seven years.

After peaking at 220 percent in 2012, the debt ratio had declined for six consecutive years.

Meanwhile, the public firms posted a combined net profit of 600 billion won, the lowest earnings in seven years.

The Korea Electric Power Corp., the country's power monopoly, reported the first loss in 11 years, due mainly to weaker electricity sales coupled with increased financial costs. Its total debt amounted to 128.8 trillion won last year, up 14.6 trillion won a year ago.
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