BSP OKs entry of SoKor’s Woori Bank
MANILA — The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) has approved the application of Woori Bank, South Korea’s second largest bank in terms of assets, to fully operate in the country.
Seoul-headquartered Woori Bank was the seventh foreign lender and the third South Korean bank allowed entry under Republic Act No. 10641, signed by President Aquino in 2014, which allows the full entry of foreign banks.
The South Korean lender, a subsidiary of the Woori Financial Group, purchased 51 percent of local bank Wealth Development Bank (WealthBank) to gain a foothold in the Philippines.
The BSP’s Monetary Board approved Woori Bank’s application to take over the Gaisano-led thrift bank WealthBank last Thursday, officials who attended the meeting confirmed to the Philippine Daily Inquirer on Monday.
In a news report in The Korea Times on Sunday, Woori Bank was quoted as saying that its Philippine foray would be “in line with its efforts to tap deeper into overseas markets.”
Woori Bank plans to complete the acquisition deal within the first half of the year.
WealthBank’s 16 branches would bring to 225 Woori Bank’s overseas network. The South Korean lender reportedly plans to jack up to 400 its overseas branch network by yearend.
In January, Cebu-based Vicsal Development Corp. (Vicsal), the parent firm of WealthBank, announced an “investment agreement” with Woori Bank, creating a “strategic alliance” between the foreign bank and one of the country’s leading thrift banks, with assets of about P7 billion.
Under the partnership, WealthBank plans to ride on the world-class facilities and expertise of Woori Bank. It also targets to serve 1.2 million Korean tourists who visit the Philippines yearly as well as the 100,000-strong Korean expatriate community in the country.
According to The Korea Times, “Woori Bank said it aims to tap deeper into the Philippine financial market through cooperation with Vicsal.”
The BSP earlier allowed the following foreign banks, all Asian lenders, to operate in the country: Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corp.; Singapore’s United Overseas Bank Ltd.; South Korea’s Shinhan Bank and Industrial Bank of Korea; as well as Taiwan’s Cathay United Bank and Yuanta Commercial Bank Co. Ltd.