SEJONG-- Corporate mergers and acquisitions (M and As) by South Korean firms more than tripled in the first half of this year as a global economic recovery encouraged companies to expand their business spheres, the antitrust watchdog said Monday.

The value of reported M and As reached 41.5 trillion won (US$36.6 billion) in the January-June period, up sharply from 13 trillion won tallied a year earlier, according to the Fair Trade Commission (FTC). The number of merger cases also edged up to 215 from 209 over the cited period.

Mergers between affiliates under the same business group shot up to 25.6 trillion won from 800 billion won as part of corporate restructuring efforts, including a 19.3 trillion won deal between Seoul Metro and Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corp. in May.

At the same time, M and As among companies from different business groups also rose to 15.9 trillion won in a bid to expand their business horizons, said the FTC.

On the other hand, massive M and A deals involving foreign firms stood at 80 cases in the six-month period, worth a combined 206.1 trillion won, down slightly from 253 trillion won.

According to South Korean antitrust law, all companies doing business in the country with 200 billion won in total assets or revenue are required to report their merger plans with a firm whose total asset or revenues tops 20 billion won to the FTC.

Source: Yonhap News Agency