[THE INVESTOR] Three Korean companies including Netmarble Games were included on the antitrust watch list of large-sized industrial groups, the Fair Trade Commission said on May 1.
The FTC also signed up Netmarble founder and Chairman Bang Jun-Hyuk as the official owner, noting that he owns a 24.4 percent stake in the company. The designation means the agency regards Bang as a key influential figure at Netmarble.
Netmarble made the cut this year because its total assets exceeded 5 trillion won (US$4.65 billion) following an IPO in May last year. It is the second game company after Nexon and the fourth IT firm following Naver and Kakao to join the list.
Netmarble founder Bang Jun-hyuk
With the designation, Netmarble and its founder must abide by strict antitrust regulations. Bang is now personally obliged to disclose his own corporate actions as well as business activities of his relatives.
Unlike Naver’s Lee Hae-jin who strongly opposed when his company was put on the list, Bang was unperturbed, according to Netmarble representatives.
“As a KOSPI-listed company, Netmarble is already complying with the necessary regulations,” said a company spokesperson. “We will dutifully follow additional duties on disclosures that follow the designation as a big business group.”
In 2017, Naver said local corporate regulations were outdated because FTC applies the same laws designed to regulate family-owned chaebol to self-made private companies.
The FTC, however, begs to differ.
‘The regulations, such as those on disclosures, don’t interfere with management activities,” said Shin Bong-sam, head of the business group bureau at the FTC. “On the contrary, they are getting necessary feedback and observations from the market.”
Every year, the FTC announces an updated list of large business groups with assets of 5 trillion won or more that are subject to reporting on their ownership structure more meticulously than smaller firms. For those whose assets exceed 10 trillion won or more, the agency applies stricter rules on their equity investments or inter-affiliate loan guarantees.
A total of 60 business groups have been put on the FTC’s watch list this year. Among them, 32 groups had more than 10 trillion won assets.
By Park Ga-young (firstname.lastname@example.org)