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Corporate regulator removes 11 firms from watch list

South Korea's antitrust watchdog said Friday that it has taken 11 companies off the list that limits mutual investments and loan guarantees.

The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) said the number of corporate affiliates on the list stood at 1,791 as of end-December, down from

1,802 tallied in the previous month.

Eighteen companies were newly added to the list, while 29 affiliates were taken off over the past month, the FTC said.

The net decline comes as the political community is pushing for a fairer business environment under the so-called economic democratization drive, which also focuses on preventing large conglomerates from expanding in size through reckless mergers and acquisitions.

A slowing economy also forced large business groups to slim themselves down in a bid to brace for toughened market situations, an FTC official said.

Under South Korea's fair trade law, affiliates of large business groups with assets of 5 trillion won (US$4.7 billion) or more are restricted from making equity investments in or offering loan guarantees to one another.

The rule is aimed at preventing the distortion of conglomerate governance structures. (Yonhap News)