The Fair Trade Commission on Aug. 7 said that Harim Group, a leading livestock and animal feed maker, is under investigation for allegedly fixing prices of chicken meat with other suppliers.
The latest investigation comes less than three weeks after the nation’s antitrust watchdog started looking into Harim’s shady ownership structure in May.
|Harim Group Chairman Kim Heung-kuk|
The firm, which enjoys a near monopoly in the chicken meat market, and other suppliers stocked up frozen chicken meat almost at the same period of time, the FTC said.
The group is also being investigated for colluding with fried chicken franchise companies to increase prices pf meat supplied to individual franchisee owners and share the unfair profits with the headquarters.
In May this year, Harim, with more than 10 trillion won (US$8.70 billion) in total assets, was listed as a “big company” subject to the FTC’s heightened monitoring.
FTC Chairman Kim Sang-jo who took office in June added Harim to the list of 45 companies under investigation for unfair intra-deal practices.
Harim Chairman Kim Heung-kook handed over Orpum, a chicken processing firm, to his then 20-year-old son Jun-young in 2012. Orpum’s revenue soared from 70.6 billion won in 2011 to 403.9 billion won in 2016 possibly through orders from other affiliates.
In the meantime, Jeil Holdings, the holding company of Harim where the junior Kim is the second-largest shareholder, debuted on the KOSDAQ market on June 30. Amid concerns over the ongoing FTC probe, the share price closed at 16,900 won on Aug. 8, almost 20 percent down from the IPO price.
By Park Ga-young (email@example.com