After KEB, Hana wants to acquire bank in the U.S.

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After KEB, Hana wants to acquire bank in the U.S.

LOS ANGELES - Hana Financial Group said Friday it is pushing to acquire a Korean-American commercial bank in the United States as part of its bid to accelerate expansion abroad.

The move comes as Hana Financial Group seeks to boost overseas revenue by taking over the Korea Exchange Bank (KEB), Korea’s No. 5 lender, in one of the biggest banking deals in Korean history.

“We are eying (targets) on the East and West coasts where a large number of overseas Koreans reside,” Yun Yong-ro, vice chairman who oversees Hana’s businesses, told reporters during a visit to the U.S. city.

“We are ready to start talks with any banks,” Yun added.

During Yun’s visit to Los Angeles, Hana Financial signed a sponsorship deal with top LPGA player Cristie Kerr in a rare alliance between a Korean company and a U.S. golfer.

Hana Financial hopes that the world’s fourth-ranked player will help boost the Korean banking group’s image in global markets.

Hana Financial, which has Korea’s No. 4 lender Hana Bank under its wing, is awaiting regulatory approval from the U.S. and Hong Kong to finalize the pending purchase of KEB.

Last month, Hana secured approval from the Korean regulator to buy a major stake in KEB from Lone Star Funds in a deal worth 3.9 trillion won ($3.5 billion).

The approval came after the initial deal was signed in November 2010.

The KEB deal will allow Hana Financial, which has been largely focused on domestic business, to take control of the largest overseas network run by a Korean lender. Yonhap

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