listed firms-cash assets

SEOUL, March 8 (Yonhap) -- The amount of cashable assets held by large listed companies in South Korea jumped 37 percent in 2012 from a year earlier as they were reluctant to invest amid a protracted economic slump, data showed Friday.

The combined cashable assets held by 147 firms listed on the main bourse and the tech-heavy KOSDAQ market came to 126.7 trillion won last year, compared to 92.3 trillion won tallied in 2011, according to market researcher FnGuide Inc.

Cashable assets cover cash, cash equivalents, bank deposits and other financial products. A rise in cashable assets usually indicates the firm's beefed up corporate liquidity.

Market watchers said the increase came as local companies were reluctant to expand their facility investment last year as demand for their products is expected to fall down the road due to the global economic slowdown.

"After the global fiscal crisis, local firms made restructuring efforts to expand cashable assets, which gave them limited leeway to expand facility investment," said Lee Aram, a researcher at NH Nonghyup Securities Co.

South Korean companies' facility investment contracted 1.8 percent last year, falling sharply from a whopping 25.7 percent on-year growth tallied in 2012, according to the data compiled by the Bank of Korea.

Meanwhile, Samsung Electronics Co., the world's top maker of smartphones, saw its cashable assets surge 67 percent on-year to reach 24.5 trillion won, the data showed.

The cashable assets held by Hyundai Motor Co., the country's top carmaker, reached 14.4 trillion won last year, compared to 6.2 trillion won tallied in 2011. Its smaller affiliate Kia Motors Corp. saw its cashable assets jump 59 percent to 3.6 trillion won.

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