KT set to hike stakes in in­ter­net bank

The Korea Times - - FINANCE -

KT and Kakao Corp. are set to be­gin work to raise their stakes in their own in­ter­net-only banks — K bank and Kakao Bank — as a law that eases the own­er­ship rule for web-only banks will go into ef­fect later this week, but their plans to raise stakes still need reg­u­la­tory ap­proval, of­fi­cials said Mon­day.

The law, which comes into force Thurs­day, al­lows in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy firms to hold as much as a 34 per­cent stake in an in­ter­net-only bank.

K bank and Kakao Bank led by KT and Kakao, re­spec­tively, were launched in 2017. They have chal­lenged tra­di­tional banks in South Ko­rea and forced them to cut com­mis­sion fees and re­vamp their on­line and mo­bile bank­ing ser­vices.

How­ever, the law pro­hibits a share­holder of an in­ter­net-only bank from rais­ing a stake in the bank if the share­holder was pun­ished for vi­o­lat­ing an an­titrust law.

KT and an af­fil­i­ate of Kakao vi­o­lated the an­titrust law in the past, rais­ing ques­tions about whether fi­nan­cial au­thor­i­ties could give a nod to them to in­crease their stakes in K bank and Kakao Bank.

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