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Korea's best international bank 2019: Citi


Jin-hei Park, CEO, Citibank Korea.jpg
Jin-hei Park, Citibank Korea

Korea’s saturated market means tough competition for both the established domestic banks as well as for international banks seeking a toehold. Of the foreign banks that have succeeded in cracking the market, Citi has gone the furthest, building on more than 30 years of banking experience in Korea to operate a popular commercial bank, in addition to a wealth management business and an investment bank.

Citi was far and away the top investment bank in Korea by revenue with a 12% market share in 2019, more than twice that of NH Investment & Securities Co, in second place, according to Dealogic. Citi also ranks first among international banks for the volume of its debt capital market business, and fourth overall for M&A volume, having worked on deals such as Lotte Corp’s $1.1 billion stake sale of Lotte Card.

Under Jin-hei Park, chief executive of Citibank Korea, the US bank has kept one eye on the future at all times, moving to digitalize across the bank’s businesses. Citi has leveraged its global prowess to bring mobile banking to its Korean customers. It has cut physical bank branches, favouring online client offerings instead. The bank is even swapping its traditional corporate offices in Seoul for new ‘smart’ offices that make better use of technology and implement changes for the bank, including flexible seating and an open office plan.