SEOUL, Feb. 10 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s state pension provider owns 5 percent or more of over 300 listed companies amid increased shareholder activism by the service, a financial information provider said Monday.
The National Pension Service (NPS) held stakes of 5 percent or greater in 313 companies traded on the country’s major and secondary bourses as of the end of January, up 7.2 percent, or 21 firms, from the end of 2018, according to FnGuide.
The state pension provider also owned 10 percent or more of 96 listed corporations, up 20 percent, or 16 companies, from 11 months earlier.
In particular, the NPS was the largest shareholder of nine listed firms, including No. 2 mobile carrier KT Corp., steel behemoth POSCO, top Internet portal operator Naver Corp. and financial giant Shinhan Financial Group.
The NPS approved a set of guidelines for shareholder activism in late December 2019, paving the way for the fund to press firms to fire board members over breach of trust and other illegal activities.
The NPS, the country’s top institutional investor, had been pushing for a more aggressive shareholder role, prodding firms to adopt better governance and do business in a way that does not hurt shareholder value.
Under the guidelines, the pension fund will be able to actively exercise its stewardship and shareholder rights against law-breaking companies.
The NPS is the world’s third-largest pension fund, with assets under its management totaling nearly 724 trillion won (US$607 billion) as of November 2019.