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What to expect from Yoon’s market policy change

President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol gives a speech at the National Assembly on Thursday. (Yonhap)
President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol gives a speech at the National Assembly on Thursday. (Yonhap)
Investors are bracing themselves for a bumpy ride ahead and keeping a close watch on how President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol’s campaign pledges to cut capital gains tax and rein in corporate spinoffs will pan out.

The president-elect, representing the conservative bloc, has proposed reversing capital gains taxes that the current liberal-leaning Moon administration has put on investors, saying removing them would help to revitalize the stock exchange.

But Yoon faces an uphill battle in doing so because he would have to persuade Moon’s ruling party, which controls most of the 300-seat National Assembly, to amend the tax law, set to take effect in 2023. Without a revision, taxes of up to 25 percent will be imposed on annual capital gains exceeding 50 million won ($40,700).

Yoon also suggested raising the tax threshold for cryptocurrency investments from the existing 2.5 million won to 50 million won. He said he would introduce a law on digital assets and lay the groundwork for initial exchange offerings to embolden the cryptocurrency industry.

Regulating corporate spinoffs is another priority on his agenda.

Spinning off business divisions allows the parent company and subsidiaries to focus on their respective strategies, but the practice is accused of sacrificing individual shareholders who, unlike the majority shareholders, get no stake in the profit-making subsidiaries, despite holding shares in the parent firm.

“I know many investors are disappointed over the recent spinoffs because they saw their shares plunge. I will do what I can to protect those who invested in the future of a company,” Yoon said.

LG Chem shareholders had to watch their share prices plummet when it split off battery division LG Energy Solution and took it public in late January. The battery maker instantly became the second-most valuable listed company worth 100 trillion won.

Financial authorities last week rolled out measures requiring public companies to listen to complaints retail investors lodge over any future corporate carve-ups they see need clarification.

Yoon is expected to add another layer of protection, like giving minority shareholders rights to have their shares repurchased by a parent company that is floating a cash-hoarding subsidiary, at higher prices set by bets on what the market sees as a lucrative listing.

By Choi Si-young (siyoungchoi@heraldcorp.com)
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