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S. Korea's antitrust regulator adds 8 more biz groups to watchlist

Economy 12:00 April 25, 2023

By Kang Yoon-seung

SEOUL, April 25 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's antitrust regulator said Tuesday it has decided to add eight more business groups to the list of conglomerates subject to tighter supervision, including secondary battery materials maker EcoPro.

The total number of conglomerates for this year came to 82, which have 3,076 affiliates under their wings, compared with 76 groups reported in 2022, according to the Fair Trade Commission (FTC). The designation will come into effect Monday of next week.

Hyundai Marine & Fire Insurance Co. was excluded from the list due to a decline in its assets amid rate hikes. Iljin was removed as Lotte Group took over its affiliates.

Among the eight new conglomerates is LX, which spun off from one of the country's leading conglomerates, LG Group, in June 2022. The group focuses on logistics and trade businesses.

EcoPro Co., a leading South Korean producer of secondary battery materials, was also included on the list as its assets shot up by more than 2 trillion won (US$1.5 billion) to reach 6.94 trillion won as of the end of 2022.

"The number of companies subject to filing increased on the back of the growth of business groups penetrating into the secondary battery and auto parts sectors," the FTC said in a statement.

JoongAng Group added the highest number of affiliates at 35, followed by retail giant Lotte Group with 13 and SK Group, which holds No. 2 chipmaker SK hynix Inc., with 12.

Kakao Group, the operator of South Korea's top mobile messenger app KakaoTalk, added 11 more arms, the FTC data showed.

Under South Korean law, conglomerates with assets of 5 trillion won or higher are obligated to disclose the status of their businesses, along with details of large-scale internal trade.

Those with assets of 10 trillion won or higher, meanwhile, are attached with more strings, including a ban on cross-shareholding and loan guarantees among affiliates.

The FTC designated 48 groups for the list, up one from the previous year, as three, including retail giant Coupang Corp., were added, while two others were removed.

S. Korea's antitrust regulator adds 8 more biz groups to watchlist - 3


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