SEJONG, Dec. 30 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea’s antitrust watchdog said Wednesday that it has ordered Hyundai Motor Group to resolve cross-shareholding ties derived from an intra-group merger and acquisition (M&A) between its two steelmaking units, amid the agency’s recent push to break the cobweb-like shareholding structures of conglomerates.
Hyundai Steel Co. was merged with Hyundai Hysco on July 1 as part of the business restructuring scheme of Hyundai Motor Group, the country’s second-largest business group and the parent of Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp.
The Fair Trade Commission (FTC) told Hyundai Motor Group last week to sell 8.81 million shares worth 460.7 billion won (US$393.8 million) that the group holds in the unified Hyundai Steel by Jan. 1, 2016.
It noted that the merger has effectively strengthened cross-shareholding ties within the conglomerate.
The FTC said the instruction is based on the revised antitrust law, which went into effect in July 2014, banning cross-shareholding among subsidiaries of large companies with more than 5 trillion won in total assets.
South Korean conglomerates have wielded extra influence over their own subsidiaries, as well as the subsidiaries of partner companies, without having to actually invest any money through complicated intra-group stake-holding arrangements.
The FTC also called on Samsung SDI Co., an affiliate of the country’s largest conglomerate Samsung Group, to sell part of its stake in Samsung C&T Corp., which was newly launched after a merger with Cheil Industries Inc. on Sept. 1.’