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Banking group chiefs rush to enhance investor relations abroad

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Shinhan Financial Group Chairman Cho Yong-byoung speaks about strategies for carbon neutrality during the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference, or COP26, in the United Kingdom in November 2021. He was the sole chairman of Korea's four major banking groups to join the conference. Korea Times file
Shinhan Financial Group Chairman Cho Yong-byoung speaks about strategies for carbon neutrality during the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference, or COP26, in the United Kingdom in November 2021. He was the sole chairman of Korea's four major banking groups to join the conference. Korea Times file

By Yi Whan-woo

The leaders of the nation's four major banking groups are rushing to enhance investor relations abroad, as travel restrictions are being eased after years of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

Two chairmen ― Cho Yong-byoung of Shinhan Financial Group and Son Tae-seung of Woori Financial Group ― are currently visiting Europe and Singapore, respectively, seeking to promote their respective firm's record earnings and measures to return more benefits to shareholders with the aim of drawing more capital from international investors.

Two other chairmen ― Yoon Jong-gyu of KB Kookmin Financial Group and Ham Young-joo of Hana Financial Group ― are yet to schedule overseas meetings, according to public relations staff of each company.

"But even so, they are believed to be keeping track of the situation concerning investor relations meetings outside of Korea," a financial source said, Tuesday.

Concerning Shinhan Financial Group, Cho is visiting the United Kingdom, Sweden and Denmark through Sunday, after departing Seoul, May 15.

He is anticipated to underline the firm's record yearly earnings of more than 4 trillion won ($3.13 billion) in 2021, plus its record quarterly earnings of 1.42 trillion won in the January-March period.

Korea's second-largest banking group has been pushing to ensure more benefits for shareholders as well.

It became the first financial holding company in the country to pay quarterly dividends in 2021. It also retired shares worth 150 billion won in April in a bid to rev up its stock value.

The group-wide efforts in environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) management are likely on the agenda to be brought up by Cho in Europe.

Cho has been regarded the most active among the leaders of the four major banking groups in this regard, as seen from his participation in the 26th U.N. Climate Change Conference, or COP26, in the U.K. in November 2021.

He was the sole chairman among the four to be invited to the conference.

The sources viewed that Shinhan Financial Group is "right on track" in terms of the competition with its rivals to woo foreign investors.

They noted that foreign nationals hold about 60 to 70 percent of the shares of the four banking groups, except for Woori.

Woori Financial Group Chairman Son Tae-seung delivers a certificate of airlines tickets to a couple during a joint wedding ceremony of international couples hosted by the banking group's charity foundation in Seoul in October 2021. The foundation is a part of the company's efforts for environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) management. Korea Times file
Woori Financial Group Chairman Son Tae-seung delivers a certificate of airlines tickets to a couple during a joint wedding ceremony of international couples hosted by the banking group's charity foundation in Seoul in October 2021. The foundation is a part of the company's efforts for environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) management. Korea Times file

For Woori Financial Group, Chairman Son began a three-day trip to Singapore, Tuesday, as his first trip for an investor meeting abroad.

Like other banking groups, Woori marked record yearly earnings in 2021 ― worth 2.58 trillion won ― as well as record quarterly earnings in the January-March period ― worth 884.2 billion won.

The achievement was especially noteworthy as it comes after the company was fully privatized in December 2021 following 23 years of government-led ownership.

The company accordingly is performing well in the stock market in general, and the stake held by foreign investors rose by 6 percentage points this year.

Woori Financial Group attributes such achievements to improvements in its financial soundness, ESG management and digitalization.

A public relations employee of the firm said it plans to continue investor relations meetings in the Americas in June, followed by Europe and Hong Kong in the coming months.


Yi Whan-woo yistory@koreatimes.co.kr


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