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S. Korean investment in Vietnam soars 500% in 10 years: data

South Korean financial companies’ investments in Vietnam have grown by more than 500 percent over the past 10 years, in particular marking an uptick since last year, on the back of President Moon Jae-in’s Southeast Asia-friendly initiative, data showed Monday.

The volume of investments made by domestic financial companies to the Southeast Asian state stood at $123 million last year, up 509.88 percent from 10 years prior, according to statistics from the Overseas Economic Research Institute of state-run Export-Import Bank of Korea.

The total investment volume accumulated since 1993 totaled $799.8 million.

Currently, Seoul’s top four banking players -- Shinhan, KB Kookmin Bank, Woori Bank and Hana KEB Bank -- are operating in Vietnam, along with other major securities companies such as Mirae Asset Daewoo, Korea Investment & Securities, NH Investment & Securities and Shinhan Investment.

Lotte Card, the credit card operator of retail giant Lotte, recently confirmed its 100 percent equity acquisition of Vietnamese consumer financing company Techcom Finance, becoming the first South Korean player to obtain a credit card business license there.

Business expansion gestures in the Southeast Asian region came in step with President Moon’s signal to strengthen ties with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations under the New South Policy initiative.

The state chief is slated to embark this week on a trip to Vietnam and then to the United Arab Emirates to meet his respective counterparts.

In the run-up to the visit, the Financial Services Commission announced a revision of regulations to ease the notification requirement in case of financial companies’ direct investment in an overseas market.

Formerly, financial companies were obligated to give prior notice when making a direct investment or changing an earlier-reported investment. Under revised rules, they are only required to do so within three months from investment.

Also, FSC Chairman Choi Jong-ku, who will accompany the president on the trip, is set to attend a bilateral financial cooperation forum and sign a memorandum of understanding on financial technology operations with Vietnam’s central bank, officials said.

By Bae Hyun-jung (

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