SEOUL, Feb. 22 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korean listed companies’ dividend payouts for their fiscal 2014 are expected to rise by more than 30 percent compared with a year earlier, data showed on Sunday, largely due to growing pressure on them to deliver more to investors.
According to the data compiled by KB Investment & Securities Co., their dividend payouts for fiscal 2014 are estimated at 17 trillion won (US$15.4 billion), compared with the 13 trillion won a year earlier.
So far this year, a total of 490 listed firms have revealed their payout plans totaling 12.3 trillion won, up a sharp 32 percent from 9.3 trillion won a year earlier.
The government has been pressing leading firms to give back more to investors by passing a revised tax code to tax corporate cash reserves that are in excess of a certain amount in a broader effort to encourage companies to spend more on wages, dividends and investment.
Korean companies have been stingy in paying dividends, a key reason why South Korean stocks are undervalued, with the dividend payout ratio standing at 22.4 percent, far below the average of 47.7 percent of other countries, according to the bourse operator Korea Exchange.
The data also showed that Samsung Life Insurance Co., the country’s largest life insurer, is estimated to have enjoyed the largest increase in its dividend income at 951 billion won.
Samsung Life has stakes in its affiliates such as Samsung Electronics Co., the flagship unit of the country’s largest conglomerate Samsung Group.
LG Electronics Inc., a major tech firm, came in second with a 702 billion won rise, followed by top mobile operator SK Telecom Co. with 47.5 billion won, and top auto parts maker Hyundai Mobis Co. with 432 billion won, the data showed.