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Three Samsung units receive top grade in survey on shared growth with smaller firms

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, May 27 (Yonhap) -- Samsung Electronics Co., the world's top smartphone maker, and its two smaller sister companies and six other companies received the top grade in the latest survey designed to promote shared growth between conglomerates and smaller businesses, an official said Monday.

The nine companies out of the 73 surveyed were rated as "excellent" in terms of fair business practices and cooperation with their smaller contractors, according to the National Commission for Corporate Partnership, a private body responsible for shared growth between conglomerates and smaller businesses.

The eight companies include Samsung Electro-Mechanics Co., a South Korean industrial parts maker; Samsung SDS Co., a computer system integration unit of the country's top conglomerate Samsung Group; Hyundai Heavy Industries Co., the world's largest shipbuilder; POSCO, the world's fourth-biggest steelmaker; and SK Telecom Co., the country's top mobile operator.

The commission said it surveyed some 9,500 smaller firms between December and March to evaluate their 73 larger South Korean counterparts over their commitment toward shared growth.

It said Homeplus Co., the South Korean unit of British retail giant Tesco PLC, Hyundai Department Store Co. and its affiliate, Hyundai Home Shopping Network Corp., and five other South Korean companies need to "improve" their business practices -- the lowest grade in the four-tier grading system.

Homeplus expressed regret over the poor grade, noting it has made efforts to expand the volume of business transactions with its suppliers to help its contractors grow.

Meanwhile, Hyundai Department Store said it would make efforts to improve its business practices.

The purpose of the survey is to encourage big companies "to make voluntary efforts for shared growth with" smaller contractors, said Kim Seo-i, a commission official handling the issue.

The government has offered to give incentives to companies which are rated as "excellent" and "good," though it won't penalize underperforming companies, according to the commission.

The development comes as President Park Geun-hye has vowed to tackle alleged unfair business practices by the country's conglomerates, known as chaebol, and to level the playing field for smaller firms in a country that has been dominated by family-controlled chaebol for decades.

Park has urged big business leaders to share their firms' growth with the larger community and to protect the business rights of mom and pop stores by staying away from some local commercial areas.

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