Major financial institutions are seeking ways to carry on international business as Covid-19 restricts movements between countries, the Asia Economy News reported on August 13. 

Industry sources said that none of the chairmen of the four major Korean financial groups — Shinhan Financial Group, Woori Financial Group, Kookmin Bank (KB) Financial Group and Hana Financial Group — or the presidents of other major banks were able to go abroad to meet institutional investors. These companies are also struggling to operate local businesses in other countries as business trips are banned and situations are rapidly changing. 

The financial institutions are especially having problems in investor relations (IR) work as most overseas institutions hope to meet CEOs in person before investing. Investors are also hesitant to make decisions as they are unsure about how Covid-19 will unfold in the future. Even though IR departments are setting up meetings through conference calls, webinars and video conferences, these are insufficient to attract investors during times when the companies cannot offer due diligence.

The companies are trying various methods to overcome the Covid-19 situation. Shinhan Bank held its global management strategy meeting online on February 5 and 6 and started a monthly “Concord meeting” that aims for in-depth discussions on the business situations of global branches. Shinhan Bank also signed a deal last week with Van Lang University in Vietnam to offer banking services to students and school staff.

KB is also focusing on Southeast Asia. It expanded its presence in Cambodia and Myanmar by taking over a microfinance deposit-taking institution in Cambodia and receiving preliminary approval for a banking license in Myanmar. KB is also trying to strengthen its presence in Indonesia by acquiring shares of Bank Bukopin, a mid-sized Indonesian bank.

Hana Bank is also holding a contact meeting with employees overseas through a video conference system. Woori Bank is also focusing on managing overseas branches by creating a global corporate finance review department to expand its international businesses. (Reporting by Hyewon Chang)