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S. Korea gov’t to lower public firms’ debt-equity ratio to 150%

[THE INVESTOR]The South Korean government will reduce the debt-equity ratio of public corporations to around 150 percent by 2020, the Finance Ministry said on Sept. 1.

Under a long-term financial management plan, 39 public firms, including the Korea Gas Corp. and the Korea Electric Power Corp., are required to maintain their debt-equity ratio at an average 151 percent from the current 194 percent in the coming five years, with their total debt hovering around 490 trillion won (US$439.10 billion), according to the ministry.

The government has been making constant efforts to cut the debt-equity ratio of such state-run companies, which peaked at 235 percent in 2012 amid an overseas resources development boom led by the preceding administration.

The Finance Ministry said the top five companies on the debt list will be on the front burner for the government-led debt management efforts as the combined debt of the five heavyweights accounted for 58 percent of the entire public liability.

The Korea Land & Housing Corp. will reduce its debt-equity ratio to 312 percent by 2020 from an estimated 358 in 2016, while KOGAS will post a debt-equity ratio of 247 percent by 2020, down from 2016‘s 302 percent.