[THE INVESTOR] Woori Financial Group Chairman Sohn Tae-seung said on Jan. 14 in a press conference that the firm would beef up investment in startups as part of its efforts to prop up innovative companies in Korea.
The investment should take the place of Woori’s loans to small-sized companies, Sohn added.
Woori Financial Group Chairman Sohn Tae-seung
“Startups or innovative companies are in constant need of capital, and giving them financial support will be more helpful to them,” he told press. “Investing into startups is more difficult, in comparison to bank loans, but I have asked our employees to focus more on investment (than loans).”
The banking group will also attempt to more properly evaluate startups to guarantee long-term investment. As of September 2018, Woori Bank directly invested in 13 startups. The volume of each investment reached around 10 billion won (US$8.91 million). The bank also seeks to create a fund-of-funds worth 300 billion won to establish a fund for startups worth up to 3 trillion won.
“Our employees have been concerned about lackluster performance of startups that received investment from us, but those making decisions on startup investment will be exempt from disciplinary actions within the group,” Sohn added, calling on employees at the nation’s fourth-largest lender to take on more risk.
This was the executive’s first press conference as chairman of the financial group launched on this day. Sohn currently doubles as chairman of Woori Financial Group and chief executive of Woori Bank. Before, Woori had been Korea’s only commerical bank without a financial holding company structure.
Sohn also unveiled plans to acquire small-sized nonbanking financial companies, such as asset management firm, real estate investment trust firm or a savings bank, without elaborating on details about the timing of the purchase. Also, he said the group would merge two key subsidiaries of Woori Bank -- Woori Card and Woori Investment Bank -- into the holding company unit within the first half of 2019.
By Son Ji-hyoung (email@example.com)