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Lender breaks into Asian retail market

by Staff Reporter7 minute read
The Adviser

Australian lender, Pepper Group has added to their extensive suite of products, buying a Korean bank in a move to break into retail banking in the Asian market.

Pepper Group’s recent acquisition of Evergreen Savings Bank, now renamed Pepper Savings Bank, is the first Korean bank to be owned by an Australian institution.

Whilst the mutual savings bank (MSB) is comparatively small, with just two branches and 29 employees, Pepper CEO Patrick Tuttle said the acquisition was strategically targeted.

“We have been closely monitoring the mutual savings bank sector in South Korea for more than two years, looking for the right opportunity to invest in an established platform with a sound customer base and balance sheet,” he said.

“We have deliberately acquired a relatively small savings bank in terms of branches, employees and total balance sheet size in order to avoid many of the legacy problem loan issues that have been experienced by a number of MSBs in the past few years.”

The bank has approximately 30,000 active customers, total assets of KRW186,955,298,473 (US$175.9 million, including a corporate loan portfolio), and is primarily funded by customer deposits of KRW161,838,790,376 (US$152.2 million).

Mike Culhane, Pepper’s Co-Group CEO, said the acquisition marks Pepper’s first foray into the Asian financial services market.

“It is also the first regulated retail bank to be owned within the Pepper Group, which is an important and exciting milestone for us in the context of our overall strategy,” he said. 

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