Hana fixes sights on Asian, US markets
By Kim Jae-won
Globalization is a keyword highlighted and underscored many times at Hana Financial Group. After 15 anguishing months Hana successfully acquired Korea Exchange Bank (KEB) to become the nation’s second-largest financial group and now the aim is to be one of the world’s 50 biggest financial companies in three years by expanding its presence in Asia and the United States.
In particular, Hana sets its sights on Asian immigrants in the United States. To be American is to have immigrant roots and America is the country where the company hopes to be an engine driving growth. Kim Jung-tai, the new Hana chairman has unveiled an interesting strategy on how to attract new customers.
“We will hire employees from Asian countries, such as China and Vietnam, to provide financial services for immigrants in the United States,” Kim said in a press meeting last month.
The lifelong banker said Hana Bank, the group’s flagship banking unit, has businesses in Asian countries, so it is not difficult to deploy some of them to America.
Hana Financial also targets Korean-American customers on the America’s West Coast. Hana acquired a controlling stake in Saehan Bancorp., a Los Angeles-based Korean-American banking group in February. Saehan has $580 million in assets with 11 branches and 130 employees.
The group is seeking to buy another lender in the country to expand its presence throughout the United States where according to Hana, about 2 million Koreans live.
Southeast Asian countries are also target areas Hana intends to infiltrate by opening new branches in the region. The lender’s CEO Kim Jong-jun said that he plans to establish a new branch in the Philippines to provide financial services for Korean companies and residents there.
China is no exception in the lender’s global strategy. Hana believes the second-largest economy in the world still has big growth potential. The bank is focusing on the three northeast provinces of Liaoning, Jilin and Heilongjiang, where many Korean immigrants reside.
Hana has established a training course in a university in Jilin and educated 400 local employees there. It has an 18 percent stake in Jilin Bank and plans to transfer some employees to America to offer convenient services for Chinese immigrants there.
Vietnam also lies within Hana’s banking domain. Chairman Kim Jung-tai met Vietnamese Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung during his visit to Seoul last month to take part in the Nuclear Security Summit. The two parties exchanged ideas about launching a branch in Ho Chi Minh City.
Hana plans to begin offering private banking services in China as personal banking is one of the lender’s strong points. It has contributed to the quick growth of the company after starting as a small money lender four decades ago.
Analysts say KEB will help the global strategy as it has developed a good reputation in international finance, foreign exchange business and trade finance. Operating 49 branches and offices across 21 countries, KEB has the broadest overseas network among Korean lenders.