Seoul-headquartered KEB Hana Bank has secured approval from financial authorities to open a branch in Taiwan, making it the first bank from South Korea to establish a foothold in the country, the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) said on Thursday.
Foreign banks are required to open a branch within eight months of being approved, so KEB Hana Bank is expected to open a branch in Taiwan before the Lunar New Year holiday begins on Feb. 9 next year, the FSC said.
With Taiwan among South Korea’s top 10 trading partners, the two sides have forged close business ties, it said.
KEB Hana Bank’s move to set up here is aimed at extending its overseas reach by setting up cross-border financial links between the two countries, it said.
In 2019, the bank started to explore the possibility of opening a branch in Taiwan and launched a survey of the local financial market and regulations, while establishing contacts with and seeking approval from the commission, the FSC said.
If it opens a branch as planned, it will be the 30th foreign bank to have a foothold in the local financial market, the FSC said.
Banking Bureau Chief Secretary Phil Tong (童政彰) told reporters that KEB Hana Bank’s presence in Taiwan is expected to help the local financial market boost its international visibility.
Through the bank, Taiwan and South Korea are expected to cement their bilateral trading and investment relationship, Tong said.
KEB Hana Bank, which was founded in 1971, operates the largest global network among banks in South Korea, with 195 branches worldwide, the FSC said.
It specializes in a wide range of operations, including corporate banking, consumer banking, trust administration and pension fund management, it said.
KEB Hana Bank last year posted about NT$68.2 billion (US$2.45 billion) in pretax profit, with a bad loan ratio of 0.28 percent, the FSC said.
The bank plans to develop its corporate services in Taiwan during its initial stages in the country, and its local branch is expected to break even by 2023, the commission said.
KEB Hana Bank was 78th in the world for total assets and 81st in Tier 1 capital, the core capital for banks, which made it eligible to set up in Taiwan, the FSC said, citing rankings from The Banker at the end of July last year.
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