S. Korea's conglomerates cut investment by 8 pct in first half

SEOUL, Aug. 26 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's 10 major conglomerates slashed their investments by 8.2 percent in the first six months of this year, data showed Monday, despite the government's efforts to boost corporate investments.

The combined investments by 75 companies affiliated with the country's top 10 business groups reached 36 trillion won (US$32 billion) between January and June, compared with 39.2 trillion from a year ago, according to data compiled by CEOscore, a website that tracks the country's top 10 conglomerates as well as financial firms and state-run companies.

POSCO, the world's fourth-largest steelmaker, increased its investments by 52 percent, though its net profit and operating profit dipped from a year ago. Five units of POSCO invested a combined 4.4 trillion won during the first half, compared with 2.9 trillion won from a year ago, according to the data.

POSCO is followed by Hyundai Heavy Industries Group, whose four units invested 1 trillion won, up 40.1 percent from a year ago.

Hyundai Motor Group, the world's fifth-largest automaking group, invested 4.7 trillion won, up 15.9 percent from a year ago, the data showed.

Meanwhile, the seven other conglomerates cut their investments during the first half.

Samsung Group, South Korea's largest family-controlled conglomerate, invested 12 trillion won during the cited period, down 27.8 percent from a year ago.

SK Group, South Korea's third-largest conglomerate whose businesses range from mobile communications to oil refinery, cut its investments by 4.1 percent to 4.9 trillion won, the data showed.

LG Group invested 5.6 trillion won in the first six months, down 4.9 percent from a year ago. LG Group includes LG Electronics Inc., the world's third-largest smartphone maker.

The decline in corporate investments comes as the government tried to encourage companies to invest more as part of its efforts to boost the country's economic growth.

In July, Finance Minister Hyun Oh-seok said that the government plans to support local firms in increasing job creation and investment in a bid to help the economic growth return to the 3-percent range.

The Korean economy grew 1.1 percent on-quarter in the second quarter, the fastest growth in over two years, aided by fiscal spending, according to the government data.

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