|Hana Financial Group chairman Kim Jung-tai|
Hana Financial Group president Choe Heung-sik said he had made an “unusually” high number of overseas trips last year. And this year, he expects to spend even more time in airplanes as the financial group is seeking to expand overseas.
“I’m skipping this (Lunar) New Year (for a business trip), but I’m not complaining since we’re looking for more opportunities to expand toward global markets,” he told The Korea Herald during an executive meeting with the media on Friday.
His comments echoed the group’s new vision announced by chairman Kim Jung-tai, who said the Korean market is already saturated and going global is inevitable for its future growth.
“The (home) market is already oversaturated, so there’s no point in competing here anymore,” Kim said at the meeting.
The head of Korea’s third-largest lender predicted that the real growth rate for the local financial market would be no more than 2 percent between 2012 and 2020.
The group’s bank units ― Hana Bank and the Korea Exchange Bank ― have been experiencing weak earnings due to a long streak of low interest rates that undercut their net margin amid an economic slowdown and increased loan loss reserves.
As a result, the group’s profit in 2013 dropped nearly 30 percent from a year earlier to 1.13 trillion won ($1.06 billion).
The banking group, however, is looking to resume growth through more overseas branches, joint ventures and cross-border mergers and acquisitions.
“We hope to increase our foreign revenue by nearly ninefold by 2025,” he said. “We’re aiming to make it into the world’s top 40 financial firms by then.”
The majority of revenue is still coming from the domestic market. In 2012, Hana’s overseas revenues accounted for 15 percent of its total overseas earnings before tax. The company hopes to change this structure over the next decade so that foreign revenues take up 40 percent of the portfolio by 2025.
The group is targeting Asian neighbors such as Indonesia, the Philippines, Malaysia and China to achieve this goal.
At the moment, the focus is on the nonbanking sector, including credit card services, consumer loans and leasing, to target the middle classes of these countries.
Kim believes Hana Financial Group will have an edge over the local lenders thanks to KEB’s sturdy global operations.
Hana Financial’s number of overseas branches soared after taking over KEB from U.S. buyout firm Lone Star Funds in 2012, with the tally now reaching more than 120 in 24 countries, the biggest among Korean lenders.
By Oh Kyu-wook (firstname.lastname@example.org)