The Korea Herald


KB chooses Yang Jong-hee as top chairman candidate

By Song Seung-hyun

Published : Sept. 8, 2023 - 18:56

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KB Financial Group has selected Vice Chairman Yang Jong-hee as its next chairman candidate. (KB Financial Group) KB Financial Group has selected Vice Chairman Yang Jong-hee as its next chairman candidate. (KB Financial Group)

KB Financial Group, Korea's top financial holding company, has selected Vice Chairman Yang Jong-hee as its next chairman candidate.

Yang's selection is considered to be a reflection of the importance the Chairman Candidate Recommendation Committee places on Yang's extensive background in both the banking and non-banking sectors.

This development came on Friday, following comprehensive two-hour interviews --conducted by the committee of the group -- with three finalists.

"Yang's expertise extends not only to the banking sector, but also encompasses a broad understanding of non-banking domains. Moreover, his keen insights into areas like digitalization, global operations and ESG management demonstrate his exceptional vision," the committee head Kim Kyung-ho said in a statement.

After the top candidate announcement, Yang said, "I would like to express my gratitude to the nominating committee for this opportunity. While I am still a candidate, I feel a sense of responsibility."

"I am committed to ensuring that KB Financial Group becomes a respected ideal firm in the financial industry, both in the market and in society," Yang added in a statement.

The impending transition will see Yang assume leadership from current Chairman Yoon Jong-kyoo. Yoon has held the position since 2014, and is set to step down at the conclusion of his current three-year-long third term on Nov. 20.

Yang's official appointment as the new chief is scheduled to take place during the group's shareholders meeting, also slated for Nov. 20.

Yang is acknowledged as a strategic leader within KB Financial Group, and played a leading role in the strategic decision to acquire LIG Insurance.

In addition, his multifaceted background in both banking and non-banking sectors sets him apart as a unique and highly regarded candidate.

He joined KB Kookmin Bank in 1989 and transitioned to KB Financial Group in 2008.

In 2014, he was appointed as the head of strategic planning at KB Financial Group.

During his five-year tenure as CEO of KB Insurance from 2016 to 2020, he significantly elevated the company's standing as a core subsidiary, according to the group.

He was promoted to the new vice chairman position in 2021—making him the first to assume the role among the current three vice chairmen.

Currently, Yang oversees three key business divisions: retail customers, wealth management and pensions, as well as small and medium-sized enterprises.

Born in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province in 1961, Yang graduated from Jeonju High School and later pursued a degree in Korean history at Seoul National University.

The initial chairman shortlist, comprising six candidates, was established on Aug. 8.

This list was subsequently narrowed down to three finalists on Aug. 29, featuring two internal candidates, Vice Chairman Yang, Vice Chairman Hur Yin, along with an external candidate, Vietnam's HD Bank Chairman Kim Byoung-ho.

Many local industry experts had anticipated that the top chairman candidate would emerge from among internal candidates. This anticipation was fueled by the fact that the vice chairman position was established in 2020 as part of a succession planning program under the leadership of KB Financial Group Chairman Yoon.

According to sources, these systematic succession planning efforts have received significant acclaim from financial authorities, which increased the likelihood of an internal candidate successfully taking on the leadership role.

Another strong candidate was Vice Chairman Hur, whose prior role as the CEO of KB Kookmin Bank held particular relevance, considering the bank's central role within the financial holdings firm.

Hur assumed the position of the group's vice chairman early last year and currently oversees the group’s global business and insurance divisions.