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Hana, SKT ink partnership in ESG, digital financing

Hana Financial Group Chairman Ham Young-joo, left, and SK Telecom CEO Ryu Young-sang shake hands at an event celebrating their new ESG and ICT partnership at the telecom giant`s headquarters in central Seoul on Friday. (Hana Financial Group)
Hana Financial Group Chairman Ham Young-joo, left, and SK Telecom CEO Ryu Young-sang shake hands at an event celebrating their new ESG and ICT partnership at the telecom giant`s headquarters in central Seoul on Friday. (Hana Financial Group)
South Korea’s Hana Financial Group and SK Telecom signed a share-swap deal worth some 400 billion won ($305.3 million) to set up a new environmental, social and governance model, officials said Sunday.

“We have signed a strategic partnership with SK Telecom on Friday to build a new cooperative agreement based on ICT innovation,” Hana said in a statement.

Under the deal between the nation’s banking and telecommunications giants, SK Telecom will acquire a 3.1 percent stake in Hana worth 330 billion won. SK Telecom will also return its 15 percent stake in Hana’s card issuer Hana Card back to the banking giant for 330 billion won. SK acquired a 49 percent stake in Hana Card worth 400 billion won in 2009, but has been selling back the shares to the financial holding company over the years. Hana is set to own 100 percent stake in Hana Card once the deal closes on Wednesday.

In return, Hana Card will purchase 0.6 percent stake in SK Telecom for 68.4 billion won alongside 0.5 percent stake worth 31.6 billion won in the telecom giant’s sister company and ICT investment firm SK Square.

Among the key goals of the latest partnership is launching ESG-related finance and ICT programs to help foster social enterprises, young entrepreneurs and startups and socially disadvantaged youths.

Providing financial solutions for small businesses, coinvesting in social enterprises and young entrepreneurs, developing startup incubation programs and offering youth finance education via metaverse platforms will be the main projects under the goals.

On top of this, the partnership will allow both firms to provide a comprehensive lifestyle service for the customers, through integrating its key businesses ranging from e-commerce, contents, music streaming, cyber security and more.

The vision will be carried out through SK Square’s nontelecommunications and tech subsidiaries including e-commerce arm 11Street, app market operator ONE Store, streaming service Content Wavve and music streaming service operator Dreamus Company.

Financial services such as providing credit cards and insurance products that cater to each customer’s lifestyle will be developed as well.

To boost the pace of digital transformation of businesses, the firms will adopt artificial intelligence technology to develop overall customer services and consulting services through chatbots.

“Hana Financial Group and SK Telecom, which have led Korea’s finance and technology with trust and innovation, have opened a new era through the latest partnership,” Hana Financial Group Chairman Ham Young-joo said.

SK Telecom CEO Ryu Young-sang dubbed the partnership “a crucial starting point in pursuing innovation in customer value through cooperation between leading firms in the ICT and finance sector here.”

The partnership comes as financial authorities here recently pledged to review lowering the regulatory barriers that limit the industrial sector from owning banks. Under the current law, industrial businesses can hold up to a 4 percent stake in a bank, while banks can own up to a 15 percent stake in an industrial business. The figures represent one of the highest “regulatory barriers” between the industrial sector and banks among global economies.

If the barrier is lowered, onlookers expect banks to make forays into businesses related to cryptocurrency, food delivery, streaming platforms and more.

(mkjung@heraldcorp.com)
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