Korean firms’ interim dividends surge to record high

SEOUL– South Korean listed companies’ half-year dividends surged to a record high this year as their businesses posted strong performance, market data showed Sunday.

A total of 62 local listed firms paid out 4.39 trillion won (US$3.75 billion) in interim dividends in June, up 66.9 percent from a year earlier, according to the data from market tracker FnGuide.

It marks the first time that listed companies’ half-year dividends surpassed the 4 trillion-won mark.

Half-year dividends from South Korean firms reached 3.18 trillion won in 2018 and expanded to 3.35 trillion won in 2019 but tumbled to 2.62 trillion won last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The number of interim dividend-paying firms also increased to 62 from 47 a year earlier.
South Korea’s top cap, Samsung Electronics Co., paid out 2.15 trillion won to account for nearly half of the total half-year dividends.

Excluding Samsung Electronics, local firms’ half-year dividends reached 2.23 trillion won, up 333 percent from a year ago.

Ten firms have paid out at least 100 billion won as interim dividends this year, up from two companies in 2020 and five companies in 2019, as they improved their earnings.

Top steelmaker POSCO’s interim dividends more than doubled from a year earlier to reach 302.5 billion won. The country’s leading automaker Hyundai Motor Co., which skipped half-year payments last year, paid out 200.5 billion won.

South Korea’s four major financial holding firms — Hana, KB, Shinhan and Woori — also contributed to the increase in half-year dividends.

Hana paid out half-year dividends of 204 billion won, up 40 percent from a year earlier, while KB, Shinhan and Woori made their first interim dividend payments this year.

Among listed firms on the secondary KOSDAQ market, biotech firm Seegene Inc. was the top interim dividend-paying firm with 20.7 billion won.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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