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BRANCH BANKING | Tony Chua, Korea
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KB Financial gears up for global expansion

Lender's chief said it must prepare to form strategic alliances with global companies.

South Korea's KB Financial Group Inc. must prepare to expand overseas to overcome slowing growth in the maturing domestic market, Chief Executive Euh Yoon-dae said Wednesday.

"The domestic financial market has entered the maturation stage and is seeing excessive competition...leading to low growth and diminished net interest margin," Euh said in a speech to employees of the country's second-largest financial holding company by assets. "Cultivating overseas markets is the ultimate solution."

The remarks underscore the impetus for South Korea's largest lenders to find new growth engines as they face a hypercompetitive domestic market. Woori Finance Holdings Co. in May entered an agreement to acquire a majority stake in U.S.-listed Hanmi Financial Corp. (HAFC) for up to $240 million, while Hana Financial Group Inc. in June said it will invest $316 million for an 18% stake in China's Bank of Jilin to expand its presence in the country.

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