|From left are KB Kookmin Bank CEO Hur Yin and Woori Bank CEO Kwon Kwang-seok. Courtesy of each firm|
By Lee Min-hyung
The leaders of KB Kookmin Bank and Woori Bank are expected to have their terms extended after driving solid earnings growth despite the prolonged shock of the COVID-19 pandemic.
KB Kookmin Bank CEO Hur Yin's tenure is over at the end of 2021. He was named head of the country's leading commercial bank in late 2017. The banking industry expects his leadership to be extended for another year in recognition of his stable corporate management.
KB Kookmin Bank secured leading bank status in 2020 after surpassing Shinhan Bank in annual net profit.
The KB subsidiary is also on track to continue its winning streak this year. The bank reported 777.7 billion won ($660.42 million) in third-quarter net profits, up 22.3 percent from the previous year. This increase was driven by growth in its net interest margin and increased commissions from its investment banking businesses.
Hur is also getting credit for KB's agile digital transformation by leading a series of innovative projects for the lender to build a stepping stone for a post-pandemic paradigm shift in the banking industry.
The incumbent leader has also been recognized for carrying out aggressive global expansion drives over the past four years, as part of the lender's two-track strategy to expand its footholds overseas amid toughening domestic competition. He has particularly placed a focus on expanding in Asian countries with huge growth potential, such as Cambodia and Indonesia.
KB Financial Group is set to confirm the banking arm's next leadership by holding a CEO recommendation committee.
Woori Bank CEO Kwon Kwang-seok, who took office in early 2020, will see his contract expire in March 2021. Kwon had to handle the aftermath of the lender's involvement in a derivative-linked fund fiasco during his first year in office, when the lender's earnings failed to see much growth.
But Woori Bank has shown resilience, achieving big earnings growth this year. The lender reported 1.28 trillion won in net profit in the first half of the year, up 88.1 percent from 2020.
This increase was the steepest earnings growth among the nation's big five commercial banks over the same period.
Woori is scheduled to announce its third-quarter earnings Oct. 25, and is expected to report solid growth due to improved interest-related margins.
Market insiders expect the lender to achieve record earnings in 2021, which will increase the likelihood of Kwon getting an extension.
"Chances are that most incumbent leaders of major commercial banks here will be able to serve another term based on earnings growth during the coronavirus-sparked financial uncertainty," an industry source said.