Homeplus Co. was the largest donor to charity among foreign businesses operating in Korea in 2012 for the second consecutive year, according to an online corporate research firm on Monday.
Data from Korea CXO Institute showed that Homeplus, a discount chain run by U.K.-based Tesco, donated 5.53 billion won ($5.26 million) in 2012 and 6.32 billion won in 2011 to charity, topping the research firm’s list of 50 companies with over 30 billion won in annual sales.
These 50 foreign firms belong to various sectors including tobacco, liquor, luxury goods, retail and foods, automobiles, electronics, pharmaceuticals and financial services.
The researcher’s report only takes into account the donations that appear on the firms’ audit statements, and excludes charity donations by individuals.
IBM Korea, the local branch the U.S.-based tech manufacturer, and Novartis Korea, the local unit of the Swiss pharmaceutical firm, ranked second and third on the list, setting aside 2.51 billion won and 2.40 billion won, respectively.
BMW Group Korea and Bayer Korea, the local units of the German automaker and pharmaceutical firm, respectively, followed with 1.95 billion won and 1.79 billion won.
BMW Group Korea boosted its charity donations the most on-year, from 322 million won in 2011 to 1.95 billion won in 2012.
Meanwhile, GM Korea, the local unit of U.S.-based General Motors, cut its donations the most, from 4.86 billion won in 2011 to 1.24 billion won in 2012, largely due to heavy operating losses.
At the bottom of the donor list were Oriental Brewery Co, Intel Korea, Heineken Korea and Fendi Korea.
Oriental Brewery Co., whose major shareholders are U.S.-based private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. and pan-Asian PEF Affinity Equity Partners, gave no charitable donations.
Fendi Korea, the local operation of the Italian fashion house, donated nothing for the second consecutive year.
The local employees of foreign companies said they felt pressured in asking the headquarters for local charity funds or social contribution expenses on the yearly budget proposals.
“Every year we try to convince the head office into assigning a higher budget to local social contribution activities and charity funds,” said a spokesperson of a foreign manufacturer.
“It is an extremely difficult task and all we can do is to cross our fingers and hope that they will understand the business environment here,” she added.
By Chung Joo-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)