Citibank Korea CEO Yoo Myung-soon (center) poses for a photo with members of the lender’s intraboard committee responsible for making business decisions focused on environmental, social and governance values, on June 17 at the bank’s headquarters in central Seoul. (Citibank Korea)
Citibank Korea, the South Korean unit of Citigroup, has ramped up efforts to gain an upper hand in sustainable financing, focused on environmental, social and governance factors, to support local companies’ ESG management, the lender said Nov. 7.
Sustainable financing refers to a bank’s financial services, ranging from loans to bonds, designed to provide financial support for sustainable economic activities and projects of private companies or public entities. The prolonged COVID-19 pandemic has made local companies aware of the need to incorporate a high level of ESG in their operations.
The balance of Citibank Korea’s sustainable financing transactions in the January-June period recorded $8.1 billion, nearly a third of parent company Citigroup’s total ESG-related financing in Asia, which amounted to $25 billion. The Korean subsidiary posted the largest volume of sustainable financing among the banking group’s 16 Asian units, including China, Japan, Hong Kong and India.
The lender’s strong ESG performance, which is aimed at its annual strategic goal of being the “Best ESG Bank,” announced in August, came in line with Citigroup’s commitment to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050.
To speed up its ESG activities, the bank in June launched an intraboard committee responsible for promoting the incorporation of ESG criteria into the company’s business portfolios and developing ESG-related financial products as well as educational programs.
Along with sustainable financing, the foreign bank has also launched a series of virtual meetings since the second half of last year, whereby its corporate customers have consultations with the lender’s global experts regarding ESG management.
ESG-oriented companies’ overseas expansion is also part of the bank’s major long-term goals. In partnership with the Korea Trade Insurance Corp., known as K-sure, it has offered loan benefits for businesses in green areas, which are trying to make inroads into global markets.
Meanwhile, in a move to cooperate with global communities in combating global climate change, the lender signed a partnership with the Korean office of global conservation group World Wide Fund for Nature last year and donated $250,000 for the organization’s campaign dubbed “Change Now for Tomorrow,” launched in 2018 to encourage companies to embrace sustainable business management.
While supporting companies’ ESG drives, Citibank Korea has also rolled up its sleeves to beef up its own ESG capacity, especially in terms of corporate governance practices. Women now hold 38 percent of executive positions at the lender, as of November, the highest figure among the nation’s commercial banks. Last year, CEO Yoo Myung-soon was tapped to lead the bank as the first female chief to lead the US lender’s local unit.
By Choi Jae-hee (firstname.lastname@example.org)