Hankook Tire & Technology Senior Vice President Suh Ho-sung has emerged as the top candidate to possibly lead K bank, succeeding the internet-only bank's former head, Lee Mun-whan, who abruptly resigned earlier this month citing personal reasons, less than a year after his appointment.
The bank's executive recommendation committee interviewed Suh last week and nominated him as the sole candidate to replace Lee, according to industry sources Sunday. K bank Executive Vice President Chung Woon-ki, who is serving as the interim CEO, reportedly declined to take on the post permanently.
Suh's appointment will be finalized after a board and general shareholders' meeting scheduled Feb. 1.
"The appointment of the next CEO is underway, and we will make an announcement when the process is concluded," a K bank spokesman said.
If appointed to the position, Suh will be the first K bank CEO who has not worked at KT. Both Lee and his predecessor, Shim Sung-hoon, worked for the telecom giant, which is the bank's top shareholder.
Given KT's long-standing preference for appointing insiders to the top spot, market observers earlier expected K bank would not name an outside expert as the next chief. However, sources said the mobile carrier recommended Suh as part of efforts to revamp the lender.
After majoring in economics at Seoul National University and receiving an MBA at Carnegie Mellon University, Suh worked for Hyundai Motor Group's financial services units ― Hyundai Card, Hyundai Motor Securities and Fubon Hyundai Life Insurance.
He joined Hankook Tire in 2015 to support the tiremaker's global expansion. He was promoted to senior executive vice president in an executive reshuffle late last year.
K bank hopes Suh's track record in strategy and marketing will help the internet-only bank attract additional investments from global investors so it can catch up with the leading player Kakao Bank and outperform Toss Bank, another digital bank that will open this year.
It seeks to raise 400 billion won ($362 million) in capital this year, mainly from global and local private equity firms (PEFs). Last year, the bank selected Bank of America Merrill Lynch as the main financial advisor for the fundraising plan.