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Hana Financial may be banned from M&A

FSC’s move comes as group’s brokerage and banking units sanctioned

The financial authorities have begun to review laws as to whether Hana Financial Group is an eligible investor to buy a company such as Korea Exchange Bank.

Their move comes as the financial group’s brokerage and banking units were sanctioned last month and 2009, respectively, sources said Wednesday.

If a financial company receives a warning from the Financial Services Commission for irregularities, the firm as well as its parent financial group can be subject to restrictions for mergers and acquisitions activities for a certain period, the sources said.

On May 18, the FSC issued a warning against Hana Daetoo Securities, a brokerage unit of Hana Financial, for incurring huge losses after allegedly making reckless investments in stocks last November.

Senior officials at the FSC and its executive arm Financial Supervisory Service had fine-tuned the sanction level against Hana Daetoo between “warning” and the lower level “caution.”

But as the FSC eventually selected a warning, the securities firm has apparently been barred from taking over a financial company for a designated period ― reportedly for three years until 2014.

In 2009, Hana Bank received a warning from the regulatory body for incautious investment in an option-related product.

Hana Financial Group ― in a bid to acquire Korea Exchange Bank ― has already raised a large portion of funds from Hana Bank and Hana Daetoo.

“Though Hana Financial is the potential acquirer of KEB, it is no doubt that its units could be merged with the bank in a variety of business operations,” a source said.

“Further, as the two units are known as major funding sources, the parent financial group must be under regulatory probe for M&A endorsement or rejection,” he said.

In December, Hana Financial applied for regulatory approval for its plan to take over KEB.

But on May 12 the FSC said it would indefinitely delay its announcement of its probe result, citing alleged stock manipulation of U.S.-based Lone Star Funds, the majority shareholder of KEB.

The regulator warned Hana Daetoo six days later. And the preliminary contract between Hana Financial and Lone Star expired on May 24.

Though Hana Financial chairman Kim Seung-yu has continued to say that the group would extend the deadline for its M&A contract, industry sources are raising the possibility that the deal with Lone Star has broken down.

“Aside from the warning on Hana Bank, the recent sanction on Hana Daetoo could have been a critically vulnerable factor in possible Hana Financial-Lone Star talks since the expiration date of May 24,” a source said.

Sources predict the regulatory sanctions could also affect Hana’s possible bidding for other M&A targets including Woori Financial Group.

Chairman Kim said Tuesday that the group has no plan to participate in the coming bidding for the public funds-injected Woori Financial.

By Kim Yon-se and Cynthia J. Kim
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하나금융, 당분간 인수-합병 못하나

금융당국이 하나금융지주의 현재 및 앞으로의 인수-합병 움직임에 일정기간 제동을 걸 가능성이 제기됐다.

일부 전문가들은 하나금융의 자회사인 하나은행이 지난 2009년 옵션투자 관련 금융위로부터 경고조치를 받은 데 이어, 지난 5월엔 하나대투증권이 도이치은행의 2조원대 ‘매물폭탄’과 관련 입은 투자손실로 경고를 받은 사안에 주목하고 있다.

은행법 및 금융위가 정한 세부요건 등에 따르면 당국으로부터 ‘기관경고’ 이상의 제재를 받은 금융회사는 향후 3년간의 M&A 활동이 전면 금지되거나 일정 부분 제약을 받게 된다.

한 소식통은 “모회사인 하나금융 또한 이러한 제약을 받는가의 문제를 따지려면 금융위의 유권해석이 중요하다”며 “하나금융이 외환은행 인수를 위한 자금의 상당부분을 하나은행 및 하나대투를 통해 조달했다고 밝힌 부분에 주목할 필요가 있다”고 말했다.

당국 및 법률전문가들의 해석에 따라 하나금융에겐 론스타펀드로부터의 인수를 희망해 온 외환은행뿐 아니라 정부 소유의 우리금융 인수전 참여설 역시 그저 ‘바람’에 그칠 수도 있는 것이다.

이 같은 하나금융의 인수자 적격성을 둘러싼 사안은 지난 몇 개월간 불거진 론스타의 주가조작 혐의 및 대주주 적격성 문제에 가려 쟁점화되지 않았었다.

한편, 지난 5월24일 하나 및 론스간의 외환은행 주식매매 계약이 만료된 이후 계약연장설이 꾸준히 나오고 있는 가운데 일각에선 계약이 이미 완전 파기됐거나 양측이 곧 결렬을 선언할 가능성도 점치고 있다.
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