Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Hana Financial Group Inc. won support from employees of Korea Exchange Bank, the company it bought this month, averting a strike after assuring them it will keep staff and run the lender independently.
Hana and the workers’ union at the bank known as KEB agreed to retain the existing wage system, Hana said in a statement today. They may begin discussing a merger between the group’s Hana Bank unit and KEB five years from now, it said.
Hana last week completed its 4.4 trillion won ($3.9 billion) acquisition from Lone Star Funds and Export Import Bank of Korea, after the deal had been delayed for more than a year by legal disputes, regulatory hurdles and opposition by KEB workers. Today’s agreement should allow Hana Chairman Kim Seung Yu to achieve a smooth integration, according to Daishin Securities Co.
“It’s positive in that they avoided the worst-case scenario -- a strike at KEB,” said Choi Jung Wook, a Seoul- based analyst at Daishin. “Early normalization of businesses is good for Hana and KEB.”
KEB workers had been asking Hana for guarantees of job security and independent management of the bank, threatening action including a strike if their demands weren’t met by today.
“KEB’s fine human resources is one of the biggest reasons why we wanted the bank and we need them to make Hana a globally competitive financial company,” Kim told reporters today. “While keeping the two banks separate, we’ll continue to look for ways to create synergy and cooperation between Hana Bank and KEB.”
Shares of Hana rose 1.1 percent to 41,450 won at 1:30 p.m. in Seoul trading and KEB gained 1.9 percent to 8,160 won. The benchmark Kospi index advanced 1.5 percent.
Hana may consider increasing its stake in KEB in the future, Kim said, while adding that there are no immediate plans to do so. He said he will step down as chairman once his term ends in March and asked the company’s internal committee to look for a replacement.
--Editors: Russell Ward, James Gunsalus
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