The Korea Herald


KEB Hana Bank to tap into Hungary in Q1

By Choi Ji-won

Published : Jan. 16, 2024 - 16:12

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KEB Hana Bank's Korean logo is displayed on the outside of the bank's headquarters in Seoul. (Newsis) KEB Hana Bank's Korean logo is displayed on the outside of the bank's headquarters in Seoul. (Newsis)

KEB Hana Bank said on Tuesday it will open a new overseas branch in Hungary's capital Budapest within the first quarter of this year.

One of South Korea's top four commercial lenders, Hana will be the third to make inroads into the Central European country, following Shinhan Bank and Woori Bank. The state-owned Korea Development Bank also operates a local branch there.

This marks Hana's first new overseas branch in almost two years, since it set up a Taiwan office in April 2022. Hana now operates in 25 regions outside of Korea.

The Hungarian operation is expected to be managed by the main headquarters in Seoul and not the company's European regional headquarters located in Frankfurt, Germany -- KEB Hana Bank (D) AG -- according to an official from Hana Bank.

The official said the new overseas branch comes in light of increased investments in Hungary by local firms, as the country serves as a bridgehead for Korean businesses to advance into the burgeoning European market.

South Korean firms -- especially electric vehicle battery makers such as Samsung SDI and SK On -- have built plants there, placing Korea as the largest investor in Hungary in terms of foreign direct investment.

Hungary in recent years has sought to become a global hub of electric vehicle manufacturing in an era where governments are increasing their efforts to control greenhouse gas emissions. As of 2022, Hungary was fourth in the world in terms of lithium-ion battery manufacturing capacity, trailing China, Poland and the US.

Meanwhile, bilateral trade between the two countries has continued to increase in the past years, reaching a record high of $7 billion in 2022.