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(Yonhap Interview) KB Kookmin Bank CEO vows to focus on IB, overseas investment

Interviews 10:26 November 21, 2018

SEOUL, Nov. 21 (Yonhap) -- KB Kookmin Bank, a major South Korean lender, will put its top priority on promoting such business areas as investment banking (IB) and overseas investment down the road in a departure from its traditional role, the bank chief said Wednesday.

Hur Yin, president and chief executive of KB Kookmin Bank, unveiled the plan in an interview with Yonhap News Agency, marking his first year in office.

"KB Kookmin Bank should make concerted efforts to promote the IB business and invest more in overseas bonds and stocks, as well as domestic securities," he said. "That's because the traditional role of a commercial lender, or deposit-taking and lending, will increasingly disappear down the road."

Investment banking refers to a segment of banking operations that helps companies raise capital through security issues and provide financial consultancy services to them.

"If KB Kookmin Bank sticks to the traditional business model of taking deposits and making loans, it has no choice but to lag behind rival lenders," Hur said.

His remarks are seen as signaling that the lender will ramp up efforts to find a new revenue source amid a flood of lending regulations by South Korea's financial regulator, which are aimed at curbing snowballing household debt.

Hur Yin, president and CEO of KB Kookmin Bank (Yonhap)

Painting a rosy picture of the new business strategy, Hur said KB Kookmin Bank's shift in its business focus will not make a dent in its bottom line next year.

"It is a global trend for the portion of lending to a bank's business portfolio in the wake of the advancement of the banking sector," he said. "Low growth of the household lending sector should not pose a threat to the lender."

Hur also said he will redouble efforts to boost the lender's so-called digital transformation, or the integration of digital technology into all business areas.

Shortly after announcing a plan to transform the lender into a digital-oriented organization, Hur visited Google and other early adopters in New York and San Francisco from Nov. 4-9.

"(During my business trip to the U.S.), I paid a visit to Google, JPMorgan Chase and Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp. to get a first-hand look at how they have introduced digital technologies, attracted related talent and retained them."

To help promote its digital transformation, Hur said KB Kookmin Bank is considering the takeover of a venture company engaging in fintech, which refers to a combination of finance and technology.

"To that end, KB Kookmin Bank is targeting to acquire a fintech startup," he said. "At the moment, however, we will take a prudent approach."

(Yonhap Interview) KB Kookmin Bank CEO vows to focus on IB, overseas investment - 2

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