RETAIL BANKING | Tony Chua, Korea

KB Financial chief uninterested in Woori takeover

Lender wants to recover from losses first before it considers acquiring other banks.

South Korea's KB Financial Group Inc. has no plans to acquire Woori Finance Holdings Co. or any other firm until its own internal health improves, KB Financial Chief Executive Euh Yoon-dae said Monday, reiterating his previous emphasis on getting the group back into shape.

The comments come days after KB, the country's largest financial holding company by assets, said it had swung to a second-quarter net loss, weighed by record loan-loss provisions. Euh said while third and fourth-quarter results will likely improve, the large provisions in the second quarter haven't solved all of KB's problems.

"How can KB look to buy another company when it's recording losses," Euh said during a meeting with reporters. "We're still weak...we'll consider acquisitions after we get healthy."

KB, along with Hana Financial Group Inc., has been considered a potential suitor for Woori, the country's second-largest financial holding company by assets. But KB has repeatedly doused talk of a deal for Woori since last month, insisting that it remains focused on regrouping internally and maximizing operational efficiency.

"The reality of KB Financial Group is, unfortunately, that of a patient suffering from obesity," Euh said in July after being approved by shareholders to lead KB. "It is time for fundamental reform."

View the full report in the Wall Street Journal.

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