SK units rush to buy back shares to aid stock prices

2020.03.09 13:37:49 | 2020.03.09 15:48:26

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SK Group affiliates have used the bearish market conditions to stock up treasury shares to persuade investors not to dump their stocks amid concerns over virus impact on Korean Inc.

SK Networks Co., the trading arm of Korea’s third largest conglomerate, announced last Wednesday that it would buy back 22 million common shares and 10,500 preferred shares for 99.22 billion won ($82.5 million) and 770 million won, respectively, to boost the value of the stock that fell 19.7 percent over the past year. The repurchase will yank up the company’s stake ownership in its common shares from the current 3.07 percent to 11.9 percent.

The company also sold its gas station business to Hyundai Oilbank last week for 1.33 trillion won. Hana Financial Investment analyst Yoo Jae-sun expected that the company should use the proceeds for the buyback and merger and acquisition opportunities.

Shares of SK Networks ended Monday down 5.13 percent at 5,180 won in Seoul.

SK Innovation Co., the oil refining and electric vehicle battery making subsidiary, has seen its stock plummet 37.4 percent last year, and its business prospects have turned more pessimistic due to the protracted slump in oil refining business.

Market was shocked when the company set its cash dividend payout at 1,400 won per common stock in January, a sharp drop from 6,400 won a year ago amid narrowing oil refining margins. It said it would buy back 578.5 billion won worth treasury shares, about 5 percent of its entire stocks, but the announcement failed to prevent the steep fall in the stock price that has slid further by 10.1 percent over the past month.

Its shares plunged 8.24 percent from the previous session to finish at 99,100 won on Monday.

Park Jung-ho, CEO of the group’s telecommunications unit SK Telecom Co., also bought back 1,500 company shares to boost the stocks that lost 15.9 percent in value for the past year. The latest purchase came after his buyback in 2017 of 1,000 shares, which is worth 600 million won combined. Its shares fell 1.57 percent to 219,000 won on Monday.

By Kim Gyu-sik and Choi Mira

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