Woori Bank said the decision is aimed at expanding its businesses from traditional banking to asset management, real estate and other financial services.
The bank, which is 18.5 percent owned by the government, said it aims to establish the holding company by early 2019, taking consideration of time needed for regulatory procedures and the market condition. The Financial Services Commission will review its application.
"Once converted to a holding firm structure, Woori Bank will be able to invest a wide range of profitable businesses, including securities, asset management and real estate trust, which could raise the company's value," the lender said.
Under regulations, local banks are prevented from investing over 20 percent of their assets into other units.
It is the nation's only commercial bank that hasn't changed to a holding firm structure due to the delayed process of its stake sales. Other banking groups have banks, securities, insurance, card and asset management units under their wings to create synergy between their financial services.
Woori currently owns seven subsidiaries, but only two companies -- Woori Card Co. and Woori Investment Bank Co. -- produce net profits.
The government poured 12.8 trillion won ($11.5 billion) into Woori Bank to keep it afloat in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis. It has recovered 8.2 trillion won so far and plans to pull out the remaining 4.8 trillion won by selling the stake.
The government has made four failed attempts to privatize the bank since 2010, having had difficulty in finding a single qualified owner for the controlling stake.(Yonhap)