Listed manufacturers retire tiny portion of treasury shares: report

SEOUL-- Most listed manufacturing firms in South Korea tend to hold or resell treasury shares instead of canceling them in order to help controlling shareholders strengthen their managerial control, a report said Sunday.

According to the report by professor Kim Woo-jin of Seoul National University, treasury share cancellations by listed manufacturing companies came to 174 cases between 2004 and 2015.

The figure accounted for only 2.3 percent of stock buybacks, resales and retirement conducted by all 7,428 manufacturing companies listed on the stock market during the cited period.

Treasury shares refer to those bought back by issuing companies. Their cancellation normally benefits investors as it reduces the number of shares being circulated in the market.

The percentage hovered far below the companies' stock buybacks, which took up 25.6 percent of all the transactions during the period. Their resales of treasury shares amounted to 19.7 percent.

Kim pointed out that unlike in advanced countries, listed companies in South Korea tend to use treasury shares as a means of bolstering controlling shareholders' managerial grip.

"Compared with buybacks and cancellations, stock cancellations very rarely take place in South Korea, showing the limited role of share repurchases in promoting minor shareholders' interests," the professor said.

The report comes amid heightened interest in conglomerates' share buybacks. Last year, a revised bill on the nation's commercial law was presented to the National Assembly, which aims to prevent owners of large business groups from taking advantage of stock buybacks to strengthen managerial control.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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