Woori forms a fund to invest in tech start-ups

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Woori forms a fund to invest in tech start-ups

Woori Bank is forming a fund to invest in promising start-ups over a three-year period, the company announced on Thursday. Total capital committed could eventually exceed 3 trillion won ($2.7 billion).

A “fund-of-fund” structure will be utilized whereby an umbrella fund invests in other investment entities.

Woori’s 300 billion won commitment will go directly into the top-level fund, while an estimated 1 trillion won will be raised annually for investment into the subsidiary vehicles.

Woori Private Equity Asset Management, a private equity affiliate of Woori, will act as manager.

The investment banking division at Woori Bank will select start-ups to be funded. It will also provide advisory services for possible initial public offerings and consult on tax and compliance issues.

“Instead of just lending money, we try to support and foster the growth of start-ups and hope that we can set a good example of joint development between the bank and the industry,” said a source at Woori.

Besides creating the fund, Woori has directly invested 10 billion won into 11 start-ups involved in artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and biopharmaceutical developments.

The bank said that another 10 billion won is ready for deployment in support of start-ups focusing on payment solutions, medical equipment and big data.

In line with its efforts, the bank built a free workplace for fintech startups - dubbed WeeBee Fintech Lab - in 2016 in Yeongdeungpo, western Seoul.

The bank provides space free of charge for one year to select startups focusing on tech-related financial services.

The incubating center offers training and lectures on finance and corporate legal issues. It also has programs aimed at matching the companies with potential investors.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]
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