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Big player Jang Ha-sung

Posted July. 03, 2017 07:27,   

Updated July. 03, 2017 07:28


A professor at Korea University asked Professor Jang Ha-sung who led the minority shareholder campaign in the late 1990s. "Will shares really jump when governance in Chaebol improve?" It was a question to ask Jang whether better transparency will actually translate into higher share prices of Korean major corporates, which are underrated in the stock market due to "Korean discount." The professor who made his investment after hearing Professor Jang's answer was known to solve all the worries of his remaining life by reaping hefty returns. This was a story told by Professor Jang himself.

The People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy attracted laymen with their minority shareholder campaign called "10 shares an each." It was during those days when Samsung Electronics and POSCO shares were hovering at 200,000 and 100,000 won, respectively. At that time, the Dong-A Ilbo interviewed Professor Jang at this office at Korea University. He told the press that he took all his time introducing the current status of Korean companies whenever he was invited by foreign institutional investors. At that time, Professor Jang's sense of duty reflected on his face as he promoted Korean corporates with full of passion.

It was published on the official gazette in late June that Presidential Senior Advisor for Policy Affairs Jang Ha-sung liquidated 42 types, or around 4.8 billion won-worth shares under the Public Servant's Ethics Act. When including the shares owned by his wife and children, the figure goes up to over 5.4 billion won. Some shares were considered to be held since the early days when he led the minority shareholder campaign, as they were merely one, two, or three shares in total. Still, Jang previously owned stocks which were over 1,000 or 2,000 shares, and he even used to hold 13,630 shares of CJ E&M. When looking at his portfolio in terms of the number of shares, types, and amount, Jang was no more than a "big-shot" full-time investor.

Some in the securities industry were surprised at his large portfolio owned by a professor who used to champion civil rights. Some even made interesting points that Jang would have been faced with harsh interrogations asking where and how he attracted funding and made investments should he had been appointed to a position requiring confirmation hearing. Others view that Jang invested in blue chips and made a textbook investment. In other words, there were no non-marketable stocks, which aimed for short rallies. Still, Jang's previous portfolio leaves the public with more frustration when comparing with Fair Trade Commission Chairman Kim Sang-jo, who led the minority shareholder campaign with Jang but cashed out at around 8 million won by selling 10 shares.