Date set for final bids for JT Savings Bank

Japan-based J Trust Group will accept final bids for JT Savings Bank Co Ltd on September 4 from financial firms seeking to create synergies with the capital finance firm.

Law firm Kim & Chang is advising on the process and the group plans to complete the deal by the end of this year, industry sources said on August 20.

JT Savings Bank received letters of intent from six or seven strategic and financial investors in the first round of bidding held on July 24. Due to a tight timeline, major private equity firms and financial investors which formed a consortium with strategic investors reportedly had little initial interest or pulled out from the deal before the due diligence process began.

JB Financial Group Co Ltd and Han Kook Capital Co Ltd are mentioned as the most likely candidates for the takeover. JB Financial Group has been seeking diverse targets recently to strengthen its non-banking business. Its banking unit accounted for 75% of its net profit in the first half of this year, and the non-banking unit accounted for about 25%. The group’s affiliate, JB Woori Capital Co Ltd, contributes most of the non-banking unit’s profit.

Of the country’s eight largest financial groups – KB, Shinhan, Hana, Woori, Nonghyup, BNK, JB and DGB – JB Financial Group and DGB Financial Group are the only ones that do not have a savings bank under their umbrella. A savings bank, which creates synergies with a credit finance firm, is seen as essential to increase a non-banking unit’s profit.

Han Kook Capital is also said to be actively seeking to acquire JT Savings Bank. Han Kook Capital, whose largest shareholder is the Military Mutual Aid Association, has improved its profitability through portfolio diversification and risk management efforts since CEO Sang-Chun Lee took office in 2017.

Han Kook Capital recorded an operating profit of 19.3 billion won ($16.2 million) in the first half of this year, which is close to 2018’s entire operating profit of 20.8 billion won. The firm reportedly seeks to take over a savings bank, as its business starts to stabilize. (Reporting by Se-hun Jo)