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S. Korean Banks Accelerating Entry into Latin American Market
KEB Hana Bank Allowed to Operate in Mexico
S. Korean Banks Accelerating Entry into Latin American Market
  • By Jung Suk-yee
  • February 15, 2019, 11:57
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South Korean banks are speeding up their entry into the Latin American market.

KEB Hana Bank has received a final approval for its local operations from the Mexican government.

Shinhan Bank is the only domestic bank that runs business in the Mexican market now and Woori Bank is also preparing to push into the market after KEB Hana Bank. Commercial banks are diversifying their markets to Latin America from the Southeast Asian region which they have been focused on so far.

Mexico’s banking regulator CNBV issued a business license to KEB Hana Bank at the end of last month, according to investment banking (IB) industry sources on Feb. 14. KEB Hana Bank opened an office in Mexico City in 2015 to prepare for local operations and won a preliminary license in 2017. 

KEB Hana Bank is planning to focus on domestic companies and their partner companies and Koreans that run business in Mexico in the initial stage and then expand its business to local companies and Mexicans. In particular, entering the Mexican market is one of the significant achievements of KEB Hana Bank in its global medium and long-term plans. Hana Financial Group set a goal of raising the ratio of overseas profits to 40 percent by 2025. To this end, it needs to diversify its markets in addition to Southeast Asia.

Mexico is the largest production base in Latin America so domestic companies, such as Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., Samsung Electronics Co. and POSCO Group, have already established their plants in the country.

There are already 800 South Korean companies that run business in Mexico but Shinhan Bank is the only Korean bank there. Shinhan Bank entered the Mexican market last year. In addition, Woori Bank is now preparing to make inroads into the Mexican market after Shinhan Bank and KEB Hana Bank. Currently, 51 banks are in business in Mexico. Shinhan Bank opened an office in Mexico City and started business in January last year and it has four Korean expatriates and 34 local employees.