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Firms with more foreign shareholders more transparent

Dec. 13, 2022 - 17:05 By Im Eun-byel
The Korea Exchange’s Seoul office (KRX)

Companies with higher involvement of foreigners and small investors are more likely to release more detailed corporate governance reports, demonstrating more transparency, the Korea Exchange said Tuesday.

The Korea Exchange, the nation's sole bourse operator, released an analysis on the corporate governance reports of companies listed on the local stock market.

As companies with assets between 1 trillion and 2 trillion won ($767 million to $1.53 billion) were required to release corporate governance reports from this year, 345 companies, up 130 from the year before, published the reports. Previously, only companies with assets over 2 trillion won were required to release the reports.

The average of core index rates, determining whether companies tried to establish transparent corporate governance or not -- such as giving advance notice on general meetings of stockholders and electronic voting -- improved from 63.5 percent to 66.7 percent this year for companies with assets over 2 trillion won.

The KRX deems the improvement stems from higher interest in environmental, social and corporate governance.

However, for companies with assets between 1 trillion and 2 trillion won, the rate was just 49.8 percent, relatively lower than the larger firms.

The KRX said companies with more than 30 percent of shares held by foreign investors showed a performance rate of 78 percent on their reports, higher than the 75 percent for companies with less than 10 percent foreign shares.

The performance rate is determined by the level of detail of the corporate governance reports.

Companies where major shareholders hold less stock also showed better performance on their reports, too.

"This shows that the higher involvement of noncontrolling shareholders such as foreign investors or small shareholders improves the governance transparency of firms,” the KRX said.

Meanwhile, 83.9 percent of the companies had English websites to provide information to investors, while 38.5 percent continuously delivered information on their management in English.