South Korean companies (Yonhap)
South Korean companies have suffered the most credit rating downgrades in 2020 in four years in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, data showed Monday.
Three major credit appraisers here -- NICE Investors Service Inc., Korea Ratings Corp. and Korea Investors Service Inc. (KIS) -- have downgraded credit ratings of 41 firms in separate evaluations, according to the data from Yonhap Infomax, the financial news arm of Yonhap News.
It represents the highest number of rating cuts since 2016, when 50 firms suffered a decline in their rating grades.
Oil refiners, hotels, duty-free shops, cinema chains and distribution companies took the biggest hit as they took the brunt of the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Refiners SK Energy Co. and S-Oil Corp. suffered a one-notch credit rating downgrade from "AA+" to "AA." Lotte Hotel and Hotel Shilla were also marked down a spot from "AA" to "AA-."
Leading cinema chain CJ CGV and five other companies have suffered credit rating downgrades twice or more this year.
Industry watchers voiced concern that corporate ratings downgrades may continue in the coming year in light of the protracted coronavirus crisis.
According to NICE Investors Service, for instance, it has granted negative ratings outlooks to 70 local companies and positive outlooks to only 13. (Yonhap)