KB committee chooses insider to be chairman

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KB committee chooses insider to be chairman

Yoon Jong-kyoo, former chief finance officer of KB Financial Group, was chosen as the final candidate for the group’s next chairman, its Chairman and CEO Nominating Committee announced yesterday.

This was the first time the group has nominated an insider as its chairman since 2008.

The nine-member committee said it considered who would be the most qualified candidate for the group’s top position given that a major cause of a recent embarrassing boardroom feud was parachute appointments of outside figures unfamiliar with KB’s corporate culture. The committee said Yoon won six votes out of nine.

Yoon, who started his financial career at Korea Exchange Bank in 1973, served as an accountant and vice president of PricewaterhouseCoopers Korea before joining KB Kookmin Bank in 2002. He was the chief financial officer of KB Group from 2010 through 2013.

The candidate is expected to win approval from the group’s board on Nov. 21.

“[Yoon] is almost perfect when it comes to work,” an executive at KB said. “No one has better knowledge than him, but he is humble and employees have trust in him.”

Until the last minute, Yoon’s chief rival was Ha Yung-ku, current chairman of Citigroup Korea, who was rumored to have already been handpicked by the government thanks to his close connections with politicians and government officials.

But Yoon got the nod.

“Even though he was not a KB man in his early career, Yoon adapted well to KB corporate culture and showed a soft brand of leadership to employees,” another insider said.

Yoon is also known for good relations with the trade union of KB Kookmin Bank.

KB is the country’s largest financial group by the number of bank branches. Its assets reached nearly 300 trillion won ($285.3 billion) as of last year.

The reputation of the group, however, has suffered from a series of accidents that affected customers and boardroom feuds over the past year under the ex-chairman, Lim Young-rok.

The latest scandal involved Lim and former CEO of KB Kookmin Bank Lee Kun-ho fighting publicly over changing the bank’s main computer system.

Last month, financial authorities ordered heavy punishments on both for the disruptive dispute. Lee voluntarily stepped down. Lim asserted his innocence but was dismissed by the group’s board.

Such internal strife was considered to be caused by the practice of parachute appointments indirectly influenced by the government, so the group’s nominating committee tried to avoid such a problem by choosing Yoon, a group insider.

There are plenty of tasks ahead for the new chairman, if approved by the board, ranging from appointing KB Kookmin Bank’s CEO to reshuffles of the group’s affiliates.

He is also expected to change the board of outside directors, which has been affecting the group’s decision-making, and follow through on a planned acquisition of LIG Insurance.

Since the boardroom feud was between the group chairman and bank CEO, there is a high likelihood that the new chairman may assume both posts.

BY SONG SU-HYUN [ssh@joongang.co.kr]

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