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IBK CEO aims to build finance group

Cho to focus on forging stable growth, boosting customer base


Cho Joon-hee, new head of the Industrial Bank of Korea, said Thursday he will focus primarily on forging stable growth and boosting the customer base while pushing for a long-term goal of reorganizing the lender under a holding company structure.

Cho took office last month as chief executive officer of the state-run lender which specializes in financing for small and medium-sized enterprises. He replaced Yoon Yong-ro, whose three-year term ended on Dec. 20.

In his first news conference since inauguration, he pledged to diversify its products and services to increase its non-corporate customers to 10 million by its Aug. 1 anniversary. 
Industrial Bank of Korea CEO Cho Joon-hee addresses a news conference on Thursday. (Yonhap News)
Industrial Bank of Korea CEO Cho Joon-hee addresses a news conference on Thursday. (Yonhap News)

“It is difficult for the IBK to attempt mergers and acquisitions under current conditions. It is necessary to develop products that all Koreans are eager to buy,” he said.

He also expressed willingness to push to establish a holding company but clarified that the bank would not be in a hurry toward this goal.

He said that the bank will consider market conditions sufficiently before the foundation of a finance holding company.

“As we have to share information with subsidiaries, we surely have to go in that direction,” he said. “But we must consult with the government and the National Assembly.”

Cho reiterated that it is important to push for the plan on a step-by-step basis to make the envisioned financial group competitive.

The IBK CEO cited a figure by the Financial Supervisory Service, which represents its financial soundness compared to the average in the commercial banking sector.

“While the loan default rate came to 1.39 percent in the banking industry, we saw the figure stay at 0.98 percent,” he said. “We’ve enhanced risk management over the past few years.”

After graduating from Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, he started his career at the bank in 1980. He served in a number of key posts, including head of the lender’s Tokyo branch, management support division and retail customer division. He most recently worked as deputy CEO and executive vice president.

Cho is the second IBK CEO who has not come from the government. The first was CEO Kim Seung-kyung, who headed the bank from 1996 to1998. The other 19 IBK CEOs were all former government officials.

In his inaugural speech on Dec. 29, Cho stressed that he will place top priority on customer-centered management, finding new growth engines and enhancing corporate social responsibilities.

By Kim Yon-se (kys@heraldcorp.com)
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