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Coronavirus outbreak dents value of Chaebol owners’ stock holdings

Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee (Yonhap)
Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee (Yonhap)

The prolonged coronavirus outbreak is driving down the stock asset valuation of the wealthy chaebol owners, with Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-hee suffering a drastic slump of more than 2.7 trillion won ($2.2 billion), according to latest data Monday.

Local corporate tracker Korea CXO Institute surveyed changes in the stock asset valuation of the nation’s 10 largest conglomerates between Jan. 20 and Feb. 28, 40 days since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 infection here.

The share price of 10 key group affiliates fell 16 percent on average during the period.

Retailers saw the biggest decline. Shares of Lotte Shopping and Shinsegae went down 29.2 percent and 23.6 percent, respectively.

Shares of shipbuilding, airlines, chemical and construction industries plunged more than 15 percent on average. Korea Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering and Korean Air saw a drop of 19 percent and 17 percent, each. Hanwha Corp. and GS Engineering and Construction skidded 15 percent and 14.4 percent, respectively.

The nation’s key tech firms also suffered declines -- Samsung Electronics (13 percent), SK hynix (12 percent) and LG Electronics (15 percent).

The survey results showed that the stock asset valuation of the heads of 10 conglomerates dropped 14.1 percent on average. Their stock assets evaporated more than 4.5 trillion won in 40 days.

Samsung Chairman Lee, who has been bedridden since 2014, lost the most. His stock asset valuation on Jan. 20 was 19.2 trillion won -- the COVID-19 outbreak led shares of Samsung Electronics and Samsung Life Insurance to drop more than 20 percent, respectively.

During the period, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won’s stock assets declined 20 percent to 2.4 trillion won. Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Mong-koo’s share asset valuation dropped 11 percent to 3.4 trillion won.

Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin saw the largest fall among the top conglomerates. The shares of Lotte Shopping and Lotte Holdings dropped more than 20 percent -- and a quarter of his stock assets vanished. His stock asset valuation fell from 873 billion won to 651 billion won.

Shinsegae Group Chairman Lee Myung-hee was eliminated from the 1 trillion won club in stock asset valuation. Her stock value, which was 1.6 trillion won, dropped to 956.8 billion won in 40 days.

Among those surveyed, Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Won-tae alone saw his stock asset valuation increase by more than 60 percent despite the COVID-19 crisis amid a family dispute with his sister Cho Hyun-ah. The stock price of Hanjin KAL, the holding company, soared in a short period as it struggles with a feud over management control. 

By Shin Ji-hye (shinjh@heraldcorp.com)
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