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KB Financial chooses 'insider' as new chair

After weeks of leadership vacuum, KB Financial Group chose former chief financial officer Yoon Jong-kyoo as the new chairman Wednesday, after interviewing four candidates.

Yoon Jong-kyoo (Yonhap)
Yoon Jong-kyoo (Yonhap)

Yoon will become the first chairman to be selected from within the group.

The final shortlist included Citibank chairman Ha Yung-ku, as well as three former KB Financial officials including Yoon and former KB Kookmin Bank vice president Kim Ki-hong.

The race to the top slot was neck-and-neck between Ha and Yoon, who come from widely different paths.

Ha, who has reigned over Citibank for the past 14 years, was recognized for his long experience as a financial group leader and also for his objectivity to KB Financial’s feuds.

Yoon, on the other hand, enjoyed the support of the labor union, which has persistently rejected an “outsider” to lead the group.

“At the root of all the problems (at KB Financial) was the government’s influence-peddling with the management,” the labor union said in a statement earlier. “Should another outsider (or former government official) take the chairman post, we will by all means fight back fiercely.”

The statement took direct aim at the Citibank chief who was the only candidate with no ties with KB Financial.

KB Financial Group chairman Lim Young-rok and KB Kookmin Bank CEO Lee Kun-ho both recently stepped down after being involved in a highly-publicized power struggle.

The two were eventually issued heavy penalties by the Financial Supervisory Service.

Along with the internal strife over replacing Kookmin’s computing system, the two executives were also held responsible for a series of financial mishaps including a customer information leak and a loan fraud.

KB Financial Group is the nation’s second largest financial group in terms of assets, but has been suffering from leadership disputes since it was rearranged into a holding company back in 2008.

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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