The Korea Herald


Hana Financial may target Woori for M&A

By 김연세

Published : May 18, 2011 - 19:14

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A variety of predictions concerning the next step by Hana Financial Group are being issued in the market as its chairman Kim Seung-yu continued to express its willingness to acquire a bank.

The situation comes amid growing uncertainty about the conclusion of the deal between Hana Financial and U.S. Lone Star Funds to trade shares of Korea Exchange Bank.

As financial regulators indefinitely delayed the process on whether to approve or reject Hana’s plan to take over KEB, analysts began issuing the possibility that Kim will choose to shift his M&A target to other Korean banks.

In addition, there are speculations that the financial group will tap financial companies in overseas markets.

One of the convincible scenarios is Kim’s decision to participate in the coming bidding for the state-run Woori Financial Group, which is pushed by the financial authorities.

“The Woori bidding schedule, unveiled by the government on Tuesday, will be an opportunity for Hana Financial,” SK Securities analyst Bae Hyung-jung said in a research report.
Hana Financial Group chairman (Kim Seung-yu) Hana Financial Group chairman (Kim Seung-yu)

Amid the situation under which only KB Financial Group has been mentioned as a prospective buyer for Woori, the government could promote participation of competitors including Hana, Bae forecast.

The government, which has injected huge tax payers’ money into Woori Financial, is trying to pull up the bidding price in a bid to maximize its projected recouping.

It seems that Kim also has not ruled out the group’s participation in the Woori bidding.

Though he said the group has no plan for the bidding at the current stage, he did not dismiss future scenarios.

It is also considering acquiring overseas lenders, according to industry sources.

A Hana official was quoted by a newspaper as saying that “Hana Financial does not have a branch in the western U.S. We have been stepping up efforts to expand into this region.”

The remarks come after Kim told reporters last week that the banking group was planning to acquire overseas banks, including those in the U.S., after completing the KEB deal.

Kim had also said that Hana Financial will push to expand overseas regardless of the KEB takeover.

In 2008, Hana Financial attempted to buy a 37.5 percent stake in Commonwealth Business Bank, a Los Angeles-based Korean-American lender. The move, however, failed after U.S. officials refused to give regulatory permission.

As of March, Hana Financial had two subsidiaries, one each in China and Indonesia. It also had seven overseas branches and offices in countries such as Japan and Singapore.