South Korean conglomerates saw its debt-to-equity ratio in 2008 rise from a year earlier, standing at a seven-year high, local media reported Thursday, citing a report by the Fair Trade Commission (FTC).
According to South Korea's daily Chosun Ilbo, the average debt-to-equity ratio of the nation's top 48 business groups with total assets over 5 trillion won (3.9 billion U.S. dollars) posted 119.9 percent as of late 2008, up from 98.4 percent a year earlier.
The figure is the highest since 2002 when the average ratio hit 122.3 percent.
Samsung Tesco was marked with the largest debt-to-equity ratio, 941.81 percent, followed by GM Daewoo with 741.25 percent, and Daewoo Shipbuilding with 632.29 percent.
"The business groups' financial health exacerbated last year as the weakened local currency increased the amount of their debts, mostly denominated in foreign currencies," the FTC said.
The anti-trust watchdog also attributed the increase in the ratio to the business groups' tendency to expand bond issuance and extend additional loans in case of liquidity shortage.