Financial groups ready to pick their new leaders

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Financial groups ready to pick their new leaders

Now that the Lunar New Year holiday has come to an end, the financial industry is drawing attention as the nation’s top groups prepare to replace their CEOs.

Shinhan Financial Group said that it will launch an affiliate management committee on Tuesday to discuss the appointment of new CEOs to Shinhan Bank, Shinhan Investment Corporation and Shinhan Capital. The committee comprises four members including the group chairman, Han Dong-woo, who is expected to play a major role in selecting CEOs for the affiliates.

In particular, the selection of the next head of Shinhan Bank, one of Korea’s top three banks, is drawing attention because the person in that position is considered to have an advantage in the race to become the group’s next chairman. Han’s term ends in 2017.

But current CEO Suh Jin-won is not considered to be a contender due to his health issues.

Suh, 65, whose three-year term ends on March 27, was hospitalized for more than a month after showing symptoms of pneumonia.

Possible candidates for the top job at Shinhan Bank include Shinhan Card CEO Wi Sung-ho, Shinhan BNP Paribas Asset Management CEO Cho Young-byeong, Shinhan Life Insurance CEO Lee Sung-rack, Shinhan Financial Group Vice President Kim Hyung-jin and Shinhan Bank Deputy President Lim Young-jin, who is serving as acting president.

They are all known to have a good reputation within the group, but industry observers said that the so-called “Shinhan Feud” could knock out some contestants. The fight for power between former Shinhan Financial Group Chairman Ra Eung-chan and former President Shin Sang-hoon led to allegations of embezzlement and breach of trust.

Among the possible leaders, Wi and Lim are known to be close to Ra, while Lee is considered to side with Shin.

Nonghyup Financial Group is also searching for the successor to its Chairman and CEO Lim Jong-ryong, who will be leaving his post after he was nominated last week as chief of the Financial Services Commission (FSC).

Nonghyup Financial Group said it will hold a board meeting this week to choose an acting CEO and form a committee to recommend candidates for chairman. Industry observers speculate that Nonghyup Bank CEO Kim Ju-ha is a top choice for the position.

Among candidates outside of Nonghyup, former FSC Chairman and Nonghyup Economic Research Institute CEO Kim Seok-dong has been widely mentioned.

At Hana Financial Group, the focus is on whether Chairman Kim Jeong-tae will get another term.

The group’s chairman recommendation committee last week listed Kim, Hana Daetoo Securities CEO Chang Seung-chul and Hana SK Card CEO Jeong Hae-boong as candidates. The committee will interview the three on Monday.

BY JOO KYUNG-DON [kjoo@joongang.co.kr]

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