August 16, 2022

Four major bank holding firms in South Korea this year are likely to hand out record amount of dividends due to their highest net profit estimates that have been buoyed by pandemic recovery.

According to reports, the four banks include – KB Financial Group, Hana Financial Group, Shinhan Financial Group and Woori Financial Group. They are expected to pay estimated total dividends of 3.8 trillion won ($3.2 billion).

Sources suggested that the bank holding companies are to refer to 2019, when they used about the same 26 percent of the net income for dividend payments. The country’s financial authorities routinely recommend a limit on dividend payouts from bank holding companies.

In the meantime, as the Bank of Korea is set to carry out another rate hike soon, foreign ownership of stocks in the above companies showed an on-year rise on expectations that the local banking and financial stocks would push through next year.

Financial stocks among the four companies –

• Foreign ownership in KB Financial Group was the highest as of Monday at 69.62 percent, up from 65.36. percent from the previous year.
• In second came Hana Financial Group at 67.42 percent, up from 65.03 from the same period.
• Shinhan Financial Group came in third at 60.34 percent in the reporting period and Woori Financial Group fourth at 30.03 percent. The figure for Shinhan in December last year was 57.06 percent, while 24.84 percent for Woori.

In other news, amid rising inflation, the country’s state power firm Korea Electric Power Corp. (KEPCO) announced that it will freeze the electricity rates in the first quarter of 2022.

According to KEPCO, for the January-March period of next year, it has decided to set the adjusted unit fuel cost at zero won per kilowatt-hour, the same as that three months earlier. The move comes even though its fuel costs have risen sharply due to ever rising coal, LNG and oil costs.

The country’s consumer prices in November rose by 3.7 percent from a year ago, fast-tracking from a 3.2 percent increase from the previous month.