Foreign ownership of Korean stocks hits record high

Foreign ownership of South Korean stocks reached a fresh high this week with offshore investors owning more than 50 percent in dozens of listed companies, data showed Thursday.

Foreign investors held 523.1 trillion won ($463 billion) worth of local stocks traded on the main bourse and secondary KOSDAQ market as of Wednesday, according to the data by the Financial Supervisory Service and the bourse operator Korea Exchange.

Except for November, offshore investors have been in a net buying mode since February last year, buoyed by such positives as improving corporate earnings, the undervaluation of local stocks and hopes for stimulus down the road.

Foreign stock ownership has been renewing all-time highs nearly daily since December, with the value topping the 500 trillion-won mark early this year.

As of end-February, foreign ownership was equivalent to 31.8 percent of the total capitalization of all listed stocks.

According to the data, foreign investors owned more than 50 percent of 36 companies traded on both bourses as of Wednesday, up four from the end of 2015.

Of the total, 24 companies are listed on the main stock market, with the remainder registered with the tech-heavy secondary bourse.

The firms include such large caps as tech behemoth Samsung Electronics Co. (50.72 percent), leading steelmaker POSCO (55.07 percent), Shinhan Financial Group (67.82 percent) and KB Financial Group (64.51 percent).

Foreign investors had the highest 92.22 percent stake in US cosmetics maker Englewood Lab, followed by Korea Ratings with 83.3 percent and Hankuk Glass Industries Co. with 80.68 percent.

Offshore investors’ ownership of foreign companies listed here ranged from 60 percent to 70 percent, with their stake in Chinese toymaker Heng Sheng Holding Group the highest at 75.07 percent. (Yonhap)

Source: The Korea Herald > Business > Finance

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