|Woori Financial Group Chairman Son Tae-seung / Korea Times file|
By Kim Bo-eun
Woori Financial Group's shareholders approved a second term for Son Tae-seung as group chairman, Wednesday, paving the way for him to go forward with his plan to turn Woori into a leading financial group.
His official term is three years, ending in March 2023.
With the reappointment clearing away uncertainty surrounding Woori, Son is expected to speed up his three key aims ― scaling up the group's portfolio through M&As, boosting revenue from overseas businesses and regaining market confidence by strengthening consumer protection.
The financial authorities earlier this year slapped sanctions on Son that barred him from serving another term, holding him responsible for Woori Bank's mis-selling of investment options referred to as derivative-linked funds (DLF) which caused major losses for investors last year. Son doubled as Woori Bank CEO until Woori group separated the positions of group chief and bank CEO.
However, on March 8 he filed an administrative suit against the punishment, as well as an injunction seeking to suspend its effectuation date. Woori has been adamant that there were no legal grounds for members of management to be punished for issues relating to internal control systems.
Last week, the Seoul Administrative Court approved the injunction removing the punishment obstacle for Son's bid to win approval for a second term.
Son has been leading the nation's fourth-largest financial group since it became a holding company in January last year. He is expected to place top priority on strengthening non-banking units by taking over a brokerage and an insurer. Woori Bank, the flagship of the group, accounts for over 90 percent of the group's total net profit.
Son is also interested in M&As of entities in Southeast Asia, where Korean financial firms are expanding their presence.
Expanding the company's overseas businesses is another key agenda for Son, as the group needs new sources of profit amid ultra-low interest rates here.
Under Son's leadership, Woori has aggressively increased its overseas outlets, especially in the ASEAN region.
Son has been regarded the most appropriate figure to lead Woori's global M&As, as he formerly headed Woori Bank's overseas business division.
The chairman will also be tasked with boosting Woori's stock price, as it has fallen to record lows in recent weeks, after beginning a gradual decline following the launch of the holding company last year. Woori's price per share marked its highest at 14,600 won in April last year, but has halved as of Tuesday's closing price.
The price is seen to have fallen due to Woori Bank's involvement in the DLF fiasco. As head of the group, Son will have to restore customer trust.