RETAIL BANKING | Cesar Tordesillas, Korea

Earnings of South Korean Banks nearly 15% down

Earnings of four major South Korean banks may have dropped nearly 15 percent on-year in the first half.

This was attributed to economic uncertainties and increased bad loans.

The combined net income of Woori Finance Holdings Co., KB Financial Group Inc., Industrial Bank of Korea andKorea Exchange Bank is estimated to have fallen 14.6 percent on-year to 7.95 trillion won or $6.96 billion inthe first half, according to FnGuide.

Top player Woori Finance is likely to have posted a profit of 1.11 trillion won in the first six months of theyear, compared with a profit of 1.29 trillion won a year earlier.

KB Financial is expected to have racked up a profit of 1.16 trillion won in the January-June period, down 26.3percent from a year earlier and Shinhan Financial Group Co. is forecast to have suffered a drop of 20 percentin its first-half profit to reach 1.5 trillion won, the data showed.

But Hana Financial Group Inc. is expected to see its first-half earnings rise 1.68 trillion won from 869billion won over the cited period after it took over Korea Exchange Bank early this year, the data showed.

Industrial Bank of Korea is projected to have logged a profit of 834 billion won in the first half, a sharpdrop of 16.2 percent from a year earlier. Korea Exchange Bank is also likely to see its first-half profit hassank 62 percent on-year to reach 509 billion won.

The bad loan ratios of banks in South Korea have risen this year due to a rise in fresh loan delinquency causedby the sluggish economy and weak property market.

Local banks' non-performing loans accounted for 1.37 percent of their total lending as of the end of May,compared with 0.89 percent at the end of last year, according to the Financial Supervisory Service.

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