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Korean Banks Turning Eyes toward Latin America
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Korean Banks Turning Eyes toward Latin America
  • By Jack H. Park
  • January 14, 2015, 07:45
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An increasing number of Korean banks are focusing on Latin American markets, which are home to abundant natural resources and fast-growing countries. They are paying particular attention to Mexico in that it is the passage between the Latin American continent and the United States.

Shinhan Bank, which opened its office in Mexico City in 2008, is planning to set up a local subsidiary in March this year. Korea Exchange Bank is going to open an office next month, and Woori Bank is looking to do so as well. Mexico’s importance for them is supported by the presence of manufacturing facilities of Korean companies such as Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics. Kia Motors is building its plant there, and Hyundai Motor Company recently announced a Mexican plant construction plan, too.

Brazil is another Latin American country that more and more Korean banks are interested in these days. At present, a number of Korean firms are working with Hyundai Motor Company, POSCO E&C, and so on in Brazil, which shares a border with most Latin American countries, and thus can be a linchpin of their local business.

Woori Bank opened its local subsidiary in Brazil six years ago. It is currently doing business with Korean firms in the country but is planning to make use of the market as a starting point for its business in Chile, Argentina, and neighboring countries. Shinhan Bank has sent its employees to Brazil to prepare the opening of an office there.

Korea Exchange Bank is trying to expand its sales network by means of its Chilean office opened in 2008. The Industrial Bank of Korea is looking to find its way into Latin America on a strategy partnership with Santander Bank, which is doing successful business in the continent.