Asia's best bank transformation 2017: KEB Hana
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Asia's best bank transformation 2017: KEB Hana

Awards for Excellence 2017

No merger is easy, but the combination of Hana Bank and the former Korea Exchange Bank to form KEB Hana faced more challenges than most. KEB has been a troubled asset for more than a decade, with suitors from DBS to HSBC all deterred or rejected over the years. It was sold by US private equity firm Lone Star to Hana in 2012, but it took three more years for Hana to strike an agreement with KEB’s powerful union on a merger between the two institutions. 

Then came integration – no mean feat, even with the unions safely onside. Insiders say the process was turbulent, but somehow it was completed ahead of an original schedule of 2017. Instead, integration was officially done in 2015 – although a truer sense of completion came with the integration of the IT systems of the two banks in June 2016 – and the result is the largest bank in Korea by assets. 

“They deserve credit,” says a senior banker in Korea. “Hana was a no-name bank, number five or number six.

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