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Shinhan, Woori pick chairman candidates

Shinhan Financial Group nominated Han Dong-woo, a former vice chairman of the group’s life insurance unit, as the single candidate for its chairman ship Monday.

The nation’s third-largest financial group said its candidate selection committee picked Han out of the four potential candidates for the top post.

Woori Finance Holdings Co., Korea‘s top financial services company, also named two candidates for the chairmanship, including the current chief seen highly likely to serve another term.

The selection committee of the state-run banking group picked chairman Lee Pal-seung and Kim Woo-suk, a former finance ministry official and president of the state-owned Korea Asset Management Corp.

Shinhan’s board members are scheduled to convene on Feb. 21 to endorse the nomination before shareholders give the final nod at an annual meeting in March.
Han Dong-woo
Han Dong-woo

The 62-year-old nominee, a group founding member in 1982, has been serving the group ― mostly at Shinhan Bank ― for about 28 years. After becoming a bank executive in 1993, Han worked as a deputy CEO of the bank between 1999 and 2002.

Later, as the CEO of Shinhan Life since 2002, he took the initiative in making the unit, which had suffered continual losses, become the nation’s fourth-largest life insurance company.

He was promoted to vice chairman of the insurance unit under strong confidence of former group chairman Ra Eung-chan.

Born in Busan in 1948 and graduating from Seoul National University, he had worked at Korea Trust Bank and Credit Guarantee Fund before joining Shinhan Bank.

The group has been led by interim chairman Ryoo Shee-yul since late October when Ra Eung-chan, chairman since 2001, resigned after regulators reprimanded him for alleged violation of real-name account rules.

After Ra’s departure, Ryoo, a Shinhan board member, took over as interim chairman of the financial holding company, vowing to regain the confidence of investors and customers.

Ra’s resignation came after Shinhan Financial was engulfed in an internal power struggle in September. The group’s reputation for transparency and governance was tainted by an internal feud among its top three executives including Ra.

The group saw its top three executives ― Ra, Shin Sang-hoon and Lee Baek-soon ― resign in turn during the fourth quarter after Lee filed a complaint against Shin with the prosecution for alleged embezzlement and breach of trust.

In late December, Shinhan Financial designated former Shinhan Life Insurance CEO Suh Jin-won the new president and CEO of Shinhan Bank.

The appointment in the group comes a day after its banking CEO Lee Baek-soon resigned following the prosecution’s indictment of him, as well as Shin, for irregularities including embezzlement.

Shinhan has recently scrapped its co-CEO system shared by its chairman and president in an effort to improve governance following recent top-level scandals.

Woori’s committee said it will select a single candidate by the end of this month and the board of directors plans to gather on March 4 to endorse the nomination before shareholders give the final nod at an annual meeting on March 25. Lee’s three-year term ends in late March.

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