|NongHyup Bank CEO Lee Dae-hoon, left, poses for a photo with Austrade North East Asia General Manager Brett Cooper, at the bank's headquarters in Seoul, Sept. 10. Courtesy of NongHyup Bank|
By Lee Kyung-min
NongHyup Bank CEO Lee Dae-hoon is accelerating efforts to help boost business expansion in Australia, a country with substantial demand for agricultural projects, which is a strong suit of the bank specializing in financing and developing traditional businesses, it said Wednesday.
Lee met with two senior trade and investment officials from Australia's Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) at the bank's headquarters in Seoul, Sept. 10, to discuss plans to help enhance human resources exchanges as part of a long-term business strategy to expand in Australia.
They are Austrade North East Asia General Manager Brett Cooper and Austrade Senior Trade & Investment Commissioner to Korea Rodney Commerford.
Under the plan, officials from Australia will be invited to visit the bank's innovation campus that encompasses the Research & Development center and a startup center in Yangjae-dong, Seoul.
Opened in early April, the campus, with about 1,000 data scientists, houses more than 30 startups seeking to experiment on and commercialize their ideas using technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence and cloud computing.
The bank said the two sides also reaffirmed their commitment and shared the need to continue sharing knowledge in development and financing for the agricultural sector.
"We are expected to help Australia with large-scale state-run agricultural projects, a reason both sides remain hopeful about the future cooperation," a NongHyup official said.
The bank will seek to ink deals involving state-run infrastructure projects and enhance financing services as well as investment banking services.
It said apart from the agricultural sector, hopes are high that it will make a successful entry into the Australian investment banking market.
This is because NongHyup, a latecomer to the competition to provide advanced and sophisticated financial services, will further broaden its market base by strengthening its global capabilities.
"Investment business, unlike retail, requires a relatively smaller initial investment and manpower but has substantial growth potential. Australia in that sense is a highly attractive market for us," the official said.
The meeting comes three weeks after Lee visited Australia to see the business environment there for himself before pushing for further expansion.
During his three-day visit, he met with Stuart Laurence Ayres, New South Wales minister for jobs, investment and tourism, to boost ties and make sure there will not be any unforeseen challenges in pushing forward with the planned opening of new branches there.
NongHyup plans to strengthen its global network by establishing at least 11 regional bases in over 10 countries by 2025.