The Korea Herald


Korean firms buy back shares amid coronavirus crisis

Samsung, Hyundai Motor, Posco purchase treasury stocks after share prices dive

By Shin Ji-hye

Published : March 24, 2020 - 14:00

    • Link copied

Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Euisun (Yonhap) Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Euisun (Yonhap)

With South Korea’s stock market staring at a prolonged bearish phase amid the coronavirus spread, major conglomerates have begun to buy back their own shares to reassure fleeing investors.

Over the past two months, Korean stocks have crumbled and major firms have lost their market value by a third. To assure investors, major listed firms have decided to either buy or cancel their treasury stocks.

The nation’s largest steelmaker Posco said Tuesday Chairman Choi Jung-woo and 51 executives have purchased a total of 16,000 shares worth 2.6 billion won ($2 million) as of Monday.

Eighty-nine executives from the group’s five listed affiliates -- Posco International, Posco Chemical, Posco ICT, Posco C&C, and Posco M-Tech -- also bought a total of 2.1 billion won worth of shares in their respective companies.

“Their purchase is expected to boost market confidence in the company while delivering a signal to the market that its shares are excessively undervalued amid unstable stock markets worldwide,” Posco Group said in a statement.

A day earlier, Hyundai Motor Group Executive Vice Chairman Chung Euisun bought 19 billion won worth shares of Hyundai Motor (139,000) and Hyundai Mobis (72,552). He topped it by buying 65,000 shares of Hyundai Motor on Tuesday -- paying 68,567 won per share.

His stake in Hyundai Motor rose 0.05 percentage point to 1.86 percent, and up 0.08 percent in Hyundai Mobis. The automaker said Chung expressed his will to enhance shareholder value, adding the decision has “nothing to do with” corporate governance.

Hyundai Motor’s shares, which halved over the past month, slightly went up on the news. The share price that started at 67,200 won ended at 68,900 won on Monday. On Tuesday, it went further up to end at 74,800 won, up 8.56 percent.

Last week, Samsung C&T decided to cancel 2.8 million of its own shares worth 300 billion won in a shareholders meeting. Samsung Engineering CEO Choi Sung-an also bought 20,000 shares worth about 259 million won.

Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin bought 47,400 shares for 997 million won, while 29 executives of Lotte Holdings have decided to spend more than 10 percent of their salaries on buying the firm’s shares.

According to local market tracker FnGuide, more than 100 listed companies have decided to buy back their shares.

Hwang Se-woon, an analyst at the Korea Capital Market Institute, said stock buybacks may defend company shares from falling further although canceling their treasury shares works better to stabilize the market.

By Shin Ji-hye (