Hana Bank appoints new CEO to tackle KEB merger

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Hana Bank appoints new CEO to tackle KEB merger

With the appointment of Kim Byoung-ho as CEO of Hana Bank, his first major challenge will be to swiftly integrate Hana Bank and Korea Exchange Bank (KEB).

The merger of the two banks was halted by a Seoul court after KEB’s labor union sought an injunction.

Hana Financial Group, the nation’s third-largest financial institution, said Monday that its executive candidate recommendation committee chose Kim for the bank’s top position after interviewing three possible choices at its headquarters in central Seoul.

Kim, who received his MBA at the University of California, Berkeley, joined Korea Investment and Finance, the predecessor to Hana Bank, in 1987. He served as the chief financial officer of the group.

His new position was also approved by the bank’s board members and shareholders.

Hana Bank’s CEO post has been vacant since November after former CEO Kim Jong-jun stepped down in the middle of his term as part of punishment by the Financial Supervisory Service.

Kim has been acting president of the bank for nearly four months.

The group did not appoint a new CEO because it was in the process of merging with KEB.

“Kim’s appointment is aimed at settling the organization’s troubled merger process,” said an official at the group. “The challenge for the new CEO will be integration of the organization.”

The ambitious plan for an early merger with KEB was pushed back on Feb. 4 when the Seoul Central District Court approved an injunction sought by KEB’s union.

The court ruled that Hana Financial Group cannot seek approval for the merger from the Financial Services Commission or its shareholders until after June 30.

Hana has been trying to get the merger approved since July in the hopes of improving its competitiveness in the local banking industry, at a time when financial companies are struggling under the country’s loose monetary policy.

In an event celebrating the launch of the newly merged operation of Hana Bank and KEB in Beijing on Feb. 3, Kim Jung-tai, chairman of Hana Financial Group, stressed that the merger will be a positive contribution and will provide synergy.

Management at Hana Bank and KEB agreed to an early merger in October, but KEB’s union submitted the injunction against the merger in January, saying it violated the agreement it made three years ago, in which Hana Financial Group guaranteed independent management of KEB until 2017.

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

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