Woori to boost non-bank­ing busi­ness

The Korea Times - - FINANCE - By Lee Kyung-min [email protected]­re­atimes.co.kr

Woori Fi­nan­cial Group is ex­pected to boost its credit card op­er­a­tions af­ter ac­quir­ing Lotte Card in a con­sor­tium with MBK Part­ners, ac­cord­ing to in­dus­try of­fi­cials, Thurs­day.

The Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Com­mis­sion said the con­sor­tium was eli­gi­ble to push for­ward with the deal, al­low­ing MBK Part­ners to hold a 60 per­cent stake in Lotte Card and Woori Bank 20 per­cent.

With the pos­si­bil­ity of Woori Bank se­cur­ing a con­trol­ling stake in Lotte af­ter buy­ing shares from the pri­vate eq­uity fund, this is a step closer to achiev­ing the cor­po­rate ini­tia­tive to strengthen its non-bank­ing busi­ness out­lined by group Chair­man Sohn Tae-se­ung last year.

He said at the bank’s share­hold­ers’ meet­ing in De­cem­ber that he would push for merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions as part of ef­forts to bet­ter com­pete with four other fi­nan­cial groups.

The ag­gres­sive push was to boost the per­for­mance af­ter Woori Bank re­turned to its hold­ing com­pany sta­tus in Jan­uary, a mis­sion ac­com­plished un­der his lead­er­ship about four years af­ter it aban­doned it.

To land more cus­tomers, Woori is ex­pected to in­ten­sify sales pro­mo­tions at its bank branches to boost Lotte Card sub­scrip­tions, while users of both cards may be al­lowed to use mileage and points in­ter­change­ably at part­ner stores of both firms.

“While the merger will help boost cor­po­rate profit, noth­ing con­crete has been dis­cussed to push for­ward with the plan at this point,” a Woori of­fi­cial said.

The much-at­tain­able merger be­tween Woori Card and Lotte Card is un­nerv­ing the re­main­ing six card is­suers as it would mean a ma­jor shakeup in an in­dus­try long dom­i­nated by the big four — Shin­han, Sam­sung, KB Kook­min and Hyundai.

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