Cash assets held by South Korea's top 30 conglomerates grew sharply to 157.7 trillion won ($147.5 billion) in 2013 as businesses withheld investment in the face of mounting uncertainties, a report by an online corporate research firm showed Sunday.
According to CEO Score, cash held by the 171 listed companies belonging to the largest conglomerates, excluding financial firms, were up 18.3 percent from 133.3 trillion won tallied a year earlier.
"The increase is due to businesses taking a conservative stance in the face of global economic uncertainties such as the weak Japanese yen and slowdown of growth in China," the online research firm claimed.
Of the large conglomerates, cash held by Samsung, Hyundai Motor and SK groups accounted for 70 percent of the total, or some 110.4 trillion won, with the top 10 making up 88 percent of the cash assets held.
Samsung, the country's largest family-run conglomerate, or chaebol, had some 60 trillion won in cash assets, up 40 percent from 42.8 trillion won in 2012.
This was followed by 39.5 trillion won held by Hyundai Motor Group and 10.9 trillion won by SK Group. Numbers for Hyundai Motor was up 14.2 percent, while SK's assets were roughly unchanged from the year before.
Beside the top three, cash holdings by LG, POSCO, Lotte, GS and Hyundai Heavy Industries all rose among the 10 largest conglomerates, while figures for KT and Hanjin decreased.
Total assets held by the 10 business groups stood at 139.4 trillion won, up 2.9 percent from 114 trillion won reported for 2012.
Among the top 30 groups, Dongbu Group, undergoing restructuring efforts, had the least amount of cash assets at 250 billion won, followed by retail giant Shinsegae, which reported 375 billion won in cash holdings.
CEO Score said among individual companies, Samsung Electronics, the world's largest mobile phone maker, had the most cash at 36.2 trillion won, followed by Hyundai Motor Co. and POSCO with 21.7 trillion won and 7.1 trillion won, respectively. (Yonhap)