Hana shifts focus to US market
By Kim Tae-jong
Hana Financial Group is seeking to advance into overseas markets, and the successful acquisition of Korea Exchange Bank (KEB) early this year has given the group a boost.
The acquisition made it the nation’s second-largest financial group, and the group is now aiming to become one of the world’s 50 biggest financial companies in three years.
Currently, the group operates overseas branches, offices and subsidiaries in eight different countries including the United States, China, Japan, Indonesia and Vietnam.
Hana has sets its sights on the U.S. where they can provide financial services for immigrants with Asian backgrounds.
The group is now seeking to buy lenders in the country although it has recently given up on acquiring a controlling stake in Saehan Bancorp., a Los Angeles-based Korean-American bank.
“We’re keeping an eye on the U.S. market,” new Hana Financial Group Chairman Kim Jung-tae said. “We’re now considering buying lenders in the country if we have opportunities.”
He added the group is also considering seeking to open KEB branches in New York and Los Angeles, a plan which was halted after KEB was acquired by U.S.-based Lone Star Funds.
Previously, he also mentioned that the group will hire employees from Asian countries, such as China and Vietnam, as a strategy to provide more customized financial services for immigrants in the U.S.
Along with the U.S. market, Hana believes Southeast Asian countries are also an important target where the group intends to open new branches.
The chairman said that he plans to establish new branches in emerging markets in the region.
In this regard, China carries much importance as Hana believes the world’s second-largest economy still has big growth potential. The group plans to increase the number of branches in China to 18 by the end of the year.
“We have become the top banker in China among Korean competitors which have advanced there,” the 60-year-old lifelong banker said.
To establish an Asian belt for the group, Kim also said Hana is pushing a plan to acquire local banks in the Philippines after it recently opened a branch there. “We’re now localizing overseas subsidiaries in Indonesia to expand our operations,” Kim said.
Indonesia also lies within Hana’s banking domain, where the group established an overseas subsidiary, PT Bank Hana. The group now operates six full branches, 18 sub-branches and one cash offices in the country.
He noted that the Hana will maximize the synergy from the cooperation with KEB to tap into target markets.
Many analysts also point out that KEB will help the group as it has developed a good reputation in international finance, the foreign exchange business and trade finance. Operating about 50 branches and offices across 21 countries, KEB has the broadest overseas network among Korean lenders.
The active role of KEB is anticipated because Hana guaranteed independent management for five years.
“The synergy effect will be maximized from what was the biggest mergers and acquisitions deal in the Korean finance industry as KEB is a leader in trade and FX business here while Hana has a good reputation in retail and private banking services,” a market insider said.
KEB strengthened its global business by enhancing international competitiveness and through a large international network and expertise in foreign exchange as a pioneer of globalization.
As part of this move, the bank launched offices and branches in the Asia-Pacific region to bolster its investment banking operations on the international financial market.
The bank opened a Global Trade Finance and Remittance Center in Hong Kong last May, a first for a Korean bank to centralize the processing of trade finance and overseas remittance services. The center is expected to enable KEB to achieve greater economies of scale and contribute to improved bank profitability.