Kiwoom eyes expansion after acquisition

The Korean firm has pledged to bring more global and alternative solutions to local investors after its acquisition of $20 billion Woori Asset Management was finalised yesterday.
Kiwoom eyes expansion after acquisition

The chief executive of Korea’s newly combined entity, Kiwoom Asset Management, has pledged to be bold in developing global and alternative solutions for domestic investors.

Yoon Suyoung was speaking yesterday at the launch of the entity, formed on the back of a merger between Woori Asset Management and Kiwoom Securities, an online broker focusing on the retail segment with W800 billion ($760 million) in assets under management.

State-run company Woori Finance has been offloading units to help the government recoup funds. This February it struck a $72 million deal to sell its $19.5 billion asset management arm to Kiwoom Securities, local media reported.

Yoon revealed yesterday that the company had already applied to the China Securities Regulatory Commission for a renminbi qualified foreign institutional investor (RQFII) licence. This will enable it to bring RMB-denominated investment opportunities onshore.

Completion of the acquisition yesterday instantly catapulted Kiwoom Asset Management to the eighth largest fund house in Korea with more than $20 billion in AUM.

The expectation among sources on the ground in Korea is that Kiwoom will seek to become the leading provider of financial products through traditional distribution channels and online.

But Yoon told AsianInvestor: “We are not really thinking about the company in terms of size. We have no ambition to become the leader by AUM. We just want to provide good investment opportunities to Korean investors. We are aiming for stable products and a persistent rate of return.”

Yoon did note that the merger had paved the way for Kiwoom to diversify its sources of revenue. Woori AM was recognised for its capabilities in fixed income as well as index funds, exchange-traded funds and alternative investments. It also provided quantitative analysis.

Sources anticipate that Kiwoom will seek to capitalise on its knowhow in the online marketplace to provide domestic investors with a broader array of digital solutions than simple equity funds.

In particular they expect Kiwoom to take ETFs to a new level online while looking to develop innovative wealth management products and source higher-yielding investments such as private equity, real estate and hedge funds. The acquisition should also enable the firm to bolster its institutional offering via Woori’s suite of fixed income solutions.

Yoon officially became chief executive of the combined entity on December 1, having served as CEO of Kiwoom Asset Management since 2010.

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