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Woori Bank to appoint outside directors

Woori Bank will appoint five candidates for outside directors at an interim meeting on Dec. 30, an event to determine the fate of the bank’s current President Lee Kwang-goo.

According to the financial industry Friday, Woori Bank’s new shareholders have recommended five financial figures as candidates for the outside director positions of the bank that has just been released from 16 years of governmental management.

Korea Investment & Securities recommended Shin Sang-hoon, former CEO of Shinhan Investment Corp. IMM Private Equity suggested Chang Dong-woo, investment chief at the PE firm. Tong Yang Life Insurance recommended a former executive of China’s public investment agency, while Hanwha Life Insurance proposed the nomination of a former research head at the insurer and Kiwoom Securities recommended Park Sang-yong, an honorary professor at Yonsei University.

The nominations will be confirmed at an interim shareholders’ meeting on Dec. 30.

If all of the five nominees are appointed as outside directors, Woori Bank will have a total of 11 outside directors who will influence the bank boardroom’s decision on its new CEO. 

Current CEO Lee Kwang-goo’s term officially ends this month.

There are speculations that Lee might serve for another year as the bank’s senior officials are making hard efforts to extend Lee’s term for an additional year or two in recognition of his efforts that made the privatization successful.

“The maximum number of the outside director board will be 11, and it is unlikely to appoint more,” said a bank spokesman. “Nothing has been officially confirmed about re-appointment of the incumbent CEO, but it would mostly depend on the new directors’ decision.”

Lee is scheduled to stay at least until next March when the bank’s board will vote for a new CEO.

On Friday, Korea Deposit Insurance Corporation put an end to a memorandum of understanding that was signed to help Woori Bank’s normalization in 2000, an official signal of the government taking its hands off from the bank.

Yim Jong-yong, chairman of the Financial Services Commission, sent a letter on Friday in order to deliver gratitude to executive and employees of Woori Bank for their efforts to make the bank healthier and promised autonomy of the bank.

“The government will faithfully carry out all promises to guarantee the bank’s autonomous management,” Yim said in the letter. “The government and KDIC will not get involved in management affairs including appointment of a new president.”

The FSC chairman met with new shareholders of the bank on Thursday and asked for their responsibility in managing the bank.

“The KDIC will sell the remainder of its stake in the bank as soon as the bank’s share value rises,” Yim said.

KDIC currently owns a 21.4 percent stake in Woori Bank after selling 29.7 percent ownership to seven bidders for 2.4 trillion won ($2.03 billion). On Dec. 1, the institution signed deals with Tong Yang Life Insurance, Mirae Asset Global Investments, Eugene Asset Management, Kiwoom Securities, Korea Investment & Securities, Hanwha Life Insurance and IMM Private Equity to hand over the bank stakes.

The new shareholders of the bank were also given the right to recommend an outside director for the bank’s board, who will be later able to appoint a new CEO of the bank.

By Song Su-hyun (
Korea Herald Youtube