Woori Financial Group on the Move
Group eyes taking over investment bank in Europe and a regional bank in the U.S.
Chairman Lee Pal-sung of the Woori Financial Group told Korean reporters in New York that the group plans to take over an investment bank in Europe and a regional bank in the United States.
Following an investor relations session in New York, he met with Korean reporters assigned to the financial capital of the U.S. and said that Woori Investment & Securities Co. has decided to take over a European investment bank and is eyeing a U.S. bank whose share prices have fallen due to the subprime mortgage loan crisis. He said the situation could be an opportunity for the financial group to expand its business territory and they have been watching the situation in the U.S. for the right time to make a move.
The chairman went to say that Korean financial companies went through the financial crisis of 1998 and learned a valuable lesson in coping with such a crisis with many of them going through a painful restructuring. He said, therefore,
Korean financial companies are very well equipped to handle non-performing assets better than any of their rivals around the world.
Lee also said the group plans to expand its stakes in Woori Investment & Securities, one of its major affiliates, from the current 35 percent to 50 percent in the near future. He is currently on the "2008 Woori Korea Conference"IR tour, which took him to London and New York until Sept. 2.
The chairman also predicted that the group's net income would amount to 2.15 trillion won as targeted, although H1 performance results have not fared well, reaching only 961.8 billion won, far short of the 1.75 trillion won projected earlier. The loss came from the investment in U.S. CDOs and other areas.
The Woori Financial Group held its H2 strategy meeting at the Chosun Hotel on Aug. 1 with some 120 executives from its affiliate financial companies including Woori Bank in attendance.
The meeting announced the group's affiliates'H1 performance results and discussed the strategies for its second half operational target under the slogan of "Stepping up to be Among the Top 30."
Lee said the financial environment in the country is getting worse and in order for the group to achieve its operational targets for this year, the creation of synergy among group affiliates, strengthening the operation of non-banking affiliates, the diversification of its overseas operations, prevention measures to control risks and boosting its brand image are necessary.
Lee said he would like to say "job well-done"to every officer and staff member of the group for the hard work they put in to boost the performance results in the first half, despite the difficult financial environment. He warned that uncertainty in the financial sector would continue to persist, triggered by high oil prices and prices of other key materials and the group should try to preempt the crisis, paying special attention to maximizing profits.
During the meeting, 21 officers and staff, whose contributions to boosting profits and synergy among affiliates, were presented with awards.
In the meantime, Woori Bank also held a management strategy meeting on July 25 presided over by the bank's President Lee Chong-whi.
The new CEO praised the branch managers present at the annual meeting held at the bank headquarters the managers for doing their part in boosting the bank's H1 performance level despite the difficult financial environment ushered in by high oil prices, the U.S. subprime mortgage loan crisis and the steep depreciation of the Korean currency, increasing the uncertainty in the financial market. nw
President Lee Chong-whi(left) of Woori Bank holds the check for 20 million won, the prize money attached to the Grand Award for its transparent management by the Korea Management Association on July 25.
Chairman Lee Pal-sung of the Woori Financial Group.