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Business trends

Elite chaebol tighten grip on South Korean economy

Five conglomerates took in 72% of profit among peers last year

Samsung Electronics headquarters in Seoul. Samsung is one of five chaebol that hold more than half of the combined assets among South Korea's 59 family-run business empires.   © Reuters

SEOUL -- The top five accounted for 72% of the combined net profit of South Korea's 59 family-run business empires last year, the country's fair trade watchdog said on May 15, illustrating dwindling competition in the industrial sector.

Samsung, Hyundai, SK, LG and Lotte hold 54% of assets of those business groups, known as chaebol, the Fair Trade Commission said. The quintet also reaped 57% of sales. Meanwhile, the 25 smallest chaebol own less than 10% of the aggregate assets, the result of a wealth gap that has been widening every year.

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