Korea’s Q1 GDP grew in line with the forecast given at the April KBF at 0.8% YOY and rather better than expected on a quarterly basis of 0.4%. This flags Q4 of 2022 as the real period of economic slowdown. Q2 prospects suggest a slight uplift, with the Korea forecasts predicting the real pick up would be H2. With the world economy quivering with uncertainty we remain to be convinced.
After a quick economic and political update the forum turned its attention to Korea’s corporate sector and the performance of the chaebol. Every year FTC defines which companies are chaebol and collects data. Now the data for 2022 is available, Korea Business Forum examines the state of play of the chaebol – the relative fortunes of the big four, the ranking of those below the big four and those growing and those groups which are fading. This was our 29th year of chaebol analysis. On FTC figures which are based on assets, POSCO pushed Lotte off 5th place. Our analysis uses ranks chaebol by turnover so it may differ slightly from FTC figures.
FTC decided to add eight more business groups in 2023 LX, EcoPro, Korea H&C, Global C&A, DN, Hansol, Samhwa, and BGF ―,while Hyundai Marine & Fire Insurance and Iljin were taken off the list. Over the period of analysis new groups other than in finance of as offshoots or older chaebol – like LX, are rare. With new manufacturing new names appear, the leader being EcoPro a manufacturer of secondary battery materials with revenue growth of 256% but some current legal issues.
Following changes in regulation, FTC now groups the chaebol into two classes; 48 with assets of over 10 trillion won and stricter governance for example no cross share holdings; and 34 with assets of over 5 trillion won making 82 in total up from 77 last year. As in previous years we divide the 56 major chaebol with over 5 trillion won in revenue into seven tiers and discuss the characteristics of each grade.
Join us on line on May 26th for a discussion and briefing on the state of the economy and the chaebol. At the meeting on the 18th we were joined by Mr Yeo Han Koo former Minister of Trade who added his comments on the proceedings.
If you did not do so on May 18th please download the material on the 25th when it is available as it is an important reference document for present or future use.