Macquarie Bank said yesterday that it has received its final licence to provide corporate banking services in Korea. The Australian bank joins 39 other overseas lenders with branch licences in the country.
The licence was granted by Korea's Financial Services Commission to the newly formed Macquarie Bank Limited Seoul Branch (MBLSB), which intends to start operations in the first quarter of next year. The branch will be run by Sang Ook Lee, who is also head of the FICC (fixed income, currencies and commodities) business in Korea.
Lee will be in charge of 20 staff, offering corporate banking, foreign exchange and other trading services to corporate and institutional clients. The branch won't be allowed to provide retail banking services.
"Macquarie's Seoul branch will focus on the areas where Macquarie believes it has competitive advantages and can add value for our clients. The branch will allow Macquarie to offer risk management services to Korea-based companies, utilities and industrials", said Lee in a statement.
Andrew Downe, head of Macquarie's global FICC business, which is one of the bank's five operating groups, added that the branch opening reinforces "a long-term commitment to the Korean market. Macquarie's Seoul branch will work as a consolidated platform to better serve Macquarie's clients in Korea".
Since it started operations in Korea in 2000, Macquarie has grown into a leading provider of investment banking services in the Korean market with a self-styled "strong emphasis on local expertise". Although it believes a key strength has been its focus on the "development of niche opportunities that bring innovation and advanced financial intermediation to the Korean market", its range of activities is broad.
Macquarie operates 13 different businesses with more than 350 staff in Korea. These businesses encompass mergers and acquisitions and equity capital markets - the latter business has been headed by Jae Win Lee since September when he was hired from ABN AMRO.
It is also active in infrastructure financing, structured financial products and funds management, including energy assets. In addition, the bank raises and structures debt and equity for real estate transactions, engages in equity hedge trading, equity and treasury derivatives product development, futures broking in base and precious metals and soft commodities, and IT leasing.
The Australian bank also boasts active partnerships and alliances with top Korean financial institutions such as Shinhan Financial Group and, more recently in the energy sector, with Samchully.
But John Walker, chairman of Macquarie Group of Companies, Korea, stressed that the branch opening is an important landmark for the bank. "This initiative is evidence of Macquarie's continuing diversification and growth in Korea [and] will complement our [other] businesses," he said.