The number of listed companies in which the National Pension Service (NPS) holds a stake of 5% or more fell sharply in the first half of this year, as South Korea’s state pension provider tries to increase its investment in safer blue chips after the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic. 

NPS held stakes of 5% or greater in 227 companies traded on the country’s major and secondary bourses as of the end of June, down 15.6%, or 42 firms, from the end of 2019, according to Yonhap Infomax’s calculation on July 5. The number of listed corporations that NPS owns a stake of 10% or more stayed the same from last year. 

Among the firms traded in the tech-heavy secondary Kosdaq market, the number of firms in which the NPS held a 5% or more stake decreased by 18 firms or 36.7% to 31 firms last month, from 49 firms at the end of last year. During the same period, NPS lowered its stake to below 5% in only 24 companies traded on the Kospi market, and 10.9% of the 220 firms in which it owned a stake of 5% or more.  

In the first half of this year, NPS net-purchased a total of 4.613 trillion won ($ 3.86 billion) in Kospi shares and offloaded a net 254.3 billion won in Kosdaq shares. (Reporting by Jinwon Lee)