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Sleeping Korean Companies

Posted August. 10, 2005 03:11,   


The number of Korean companies among the world’s top 500 has remained stagnant for six years.

It was found that the revenue gap between Korea’s top 10 companies and the world’s top 10 companies has widened.

According to the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI)’s analysis of “Fortune Global 500 (determined by revenue),” the number of Korean companies on the list increased from 12 in 2000 to 13 in 2003, but has decreased to 11 this year.

The country’s ranking dropped from sixth in 2000 to ninth this year.

Over the same period, China and the Netherlands saw their number of companies on the list increase by six each to reach 16 and 14 this year, respectively, surpassing Korea. Rapidly growing India has five companies on the list, an increase from one in 2000.

The proportion of Korean companies in the top 500 declined to 1.86 percent this year from 1.90 percent in 2000.

During the corresponding period, the gulf between Korean top 10 companies and the global top 10 companies widened further.

While Korean top 10 companies’ revenue grew by 37.0 percent from 2000 to 2005, that of the global top 10 companies rose by 52.1 percent. The gap in revenue increased to 7.1 times this year from 6.4 times in 2000.

The net profit growth rate is similar between Korean top 10 firms (142.8 percent) and global top 10 firms (144.3 percent). The net profit growth rate among global 500 companies averaged 67.8 percent.

Samsung Electronics and POSCO led the net profit growth rate well above the average. Samsung Electronics ranked first among the electronics companies in net profit, while POSCO ranked second in the steel industry.

The asset size of Korean companies was very small compared with global companies.

The aggregate amount of assets of 11 Korean firms on the list of global 500 stood at $461.04 billion, which represents a mere 2.5 percent and 5.6 percent of that of U.S. and Japanese firms. The figure was even smaller than those of companies from Australia, Spain, and Italy, which have fewer companies on the list.

Lee Kyeong-sang, a team leader of KCCI, said, “While there has been no new global company in Korea recently, China, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, and Australia are seeing a steady increase in such companies,” emphasizing, “As competition among countries are being transformed into that among companies, we need to nurture aggressively new global corporations.”

Im-Sook Ha artemes@donga.com