S. Korea No. 1 banking group may be privatized soon

2013-04-19 06:52:55 GMT2013-04-19 14:52:55(Beijing Time)  Xinhua English

South Korea's top financial regulator said Friday that he will push for the privatization of the country's No. 1 banking group in the early period of new government under President Park Geun-hye.

"How to privatize the group has yet to be decided, but I'll push for it fast," Shin Je-yoon, head of the Financial Services Commission (FSC) told reporters at a seminar. "It should be done in the early days of the government. It can lose steam in the latter period (of the government)."

Shin noted that he will stake his post to privatize Woori Finance Holdings, the nation's biggest banking group by assets, stressing that if the privatization fails to be done in the early period, it would be delayed for five more years.

Woori Finance, South Korea's first financial holding company, was established in 2001 after merging four troubled banks and one financial company. Around 13 trillion won (11.65 billion U.S. dollars) in taxpayer's money was injected into the group in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

The former administration pushed to privatize the group in a bid to recoup public funds and nurture the local financial institution into a big global player, but it failed three times since 2010 due to lack of interest among potential buyers.

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