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[Global Finance Awards] Woori ramps up global foray to become Asia’s leading bank

Global Innovator/ Woori Bank

Nov. 30, 2023 - 11:34 By Song Jung-hyun

Woori Bank's headquarters in central Seoul (Woori Bank)

Buoyed by its rapidly expanding global presence, Woori Bank has vowed to achieve up to 25 percent of its net profit from overseas sales by 2030.

As of November, Woori runs 469 global branches across 24 countries. Its global division logged an annual asset growth of 9 percent over the last three years, reporting a net profit of $340 million in 2022.

To continue the upward trend, it plans to pour resources into its three units in the burgeoning Southeast Asian market -- Indonesia, Vietnam and Cambodia. Together, they have shown a staggering average annual growth rate of 32 percent over the past three years and accounted for 43 percent of overseas net profit last year.

In the first half of 2024, the lender will inject a total of $500 million into its Southeast Asian units -- $200 million each for Indonesia and Vietnam, and $100 million for Cambodia.

With the investment, the bank seeks to turn its Indonesian unit into one of the top 10 local banks, its Cambodian unit one of the top five local banks, and its Vietnamese unit a leading foreign bank.

For its upcoming overseas venture, the bank is also eyeing a pivot to Poland, which has emerged as an important trading partner in the nation's defense sector in recent years. It will turn its existing office into a branch to better support Korean businesses entering the country.

Further, through its existing branches in Bahrain and Dubai in the Middle East, Woori plans to fulfill the financial demands of Korean companies seeking to join Saudi Arabia's Neom City project, a massive $500 billion initiative to create a smart city in northwest Saudi Arabia.

Throughout the execution of its overseas business expansion, Woori will also ensure robust risk management and internal controls by consistently gathering feedback from its overseas branches and conducting periodic reviews.