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118-year-old Woori Bank is oldest listed firm in S. Korea

Woori Bank is the oldest firm listed on South Korea’s stock market, data showed Tuesday.

Woori Bank, the fourth-largest commercial bank in South Korea in terms of market cap, is 118 years old, according to data from the Financial Supervisory Service and the Korea Securities Depository.

The bank was founded in 1899 through financing by a Joseon-era emperor. It was called Daehan Cheon-il Bank then, but later renamed itself Commercial Bank of Korea. It was one of the five major banks here until 1998.

With the onset of a financial crisis, the financially distressed bank merged with the major-tier Hanil Bank on an equal footing. It adopted its current name, Woori Bank, in 2002.

(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)
Two more listed firms -- consulting firm Sungchang Enterprise Holdings and motorcycle maker KR Motors -- were also over 100 years old.

Dongwha Pharm. kicked off its operation as a drugstore in 1897, two years earlier than Woori Bank, but it did not become a limited company until 1932.

Out of the 2,147 listed firms in three-tier stock markets, four listed firms were more than 90 years old, while six were over 80 years old. Moreover, 20 listed firms were founded before the Japanese occupation ended in 1945, while 272 public firms were established 50 years before.

Among the firms over 80 years, Woori Bank, Kyungbang, Hanjin Heavy Industry & Construction Holdings, Eusu Holdings and CJ Korea Express went public on South Korea’s stock market when it began operation in March 1956, along with seven more firms that are no longer listed on the stock market. Meritz Fire & Marine Insurance, then-called Oriental Fire & Marine Insurance, was listed in July 1956.

By Son Ji-hyoung (consnow@heraldcorp.com)
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