Woori group to buy big stake in Kukje Asset

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Woori group to buy big stake in Kukje Asset

Woori Financial Group agreed to acquire a controlling stake in Kukje Asset Trust, a real estate management company based in Seoul, its latest expansion into a non-banking business.

The country’s third largest financial holding unit said Monday that its board passed a resolution to buy a 65.74 percent stake in Kukje Asset Trust.

The group will acquire a 44.47 percent stake and then the remaining 21.27 percent over the next three years.

It signed a memorandum of understanding in April and “plans to strike an official sales agreement soon with Kukje Chairman Yoo Jae-eun, who is the top shareholder,” according to a statement released by Woori.

The group cited Kukje’s high profitability and compatibility with its own affiliates.

“Launched in 2007 as a latecomer in the industry, Kukje Asset Trust has different regional branches in Busan Daegu and Gwangju and focuses on land trust and collateral trust,” Woori said, “It manages 23.6 trillion won ($20.4 billion) of assets and posted 31.5 billion won in net profit and a return on equity ratio of 47 percent.”

The acquisition is expected to help accelerate growth of other affiliates including Woori Bank, said Sohn Tae-seung, CEO of Woori Bank and group chairman.

“The new unit will play a critical role in the group’s real estate finance segment and will help provide real estate financial services in collaboration with other Woori affiliates,” Sohn said.

“[Woori Financial Group] will continue to be on the lookout for the acquisition of non-banking businesses such as consumer finance, savings banks, securities companies and insurers to strengthen its business portfolio,” the chairman added.

The move follows other acquisitions in recent months after Woori Financial Group was launched in January as a holding unit.

The group announced its plan to buy Tong Yang Asset Management and ABL Global Asset in April.

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

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