The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookiesbefore using this site. Please see our Subscription Terms and Conditions.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2022 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.

Korea’s chaebol reform a rare bonus for bankers

With deal volumes weak across most of Asia, South Korea’s latest round of chaebol reform – some by choice, some by necessity – is welcome news for M&A bankers. There is plenty to do, but none of it simple, and not always lucrative.

Samsung Seoul Korea-R-600



South Korea’s chaebols are a throwback. Tangled and powerful, they date from the country’s efforts to bolster industrial growth in the aftermath of the civil war. Under tight family control and swept up on a wave of exporting success that has lasted on and off for half a century, they are everywhere. And they are also out-of-date, stifling growth and entrepreneurship, where once they drove it.

The idea of reforming these huge conglomerates is nothing new. LG, controlled by the Koo family, was the first of the biggest chaebol to start dismantling its labyrinthine circular shareholdings and move to a holding company structure in the early years of this century; it was followed by SK a few years later. Now there is a renewed round of activity driven by two different causes. 

At the top end, Samsung – the biggest and most powerful of the chaebol – has set about selling non-core assets and simplifying company structures in a move that has attracted not only international investors but international activists.

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?