Friday, May 28, 2010

Tech support...

Location of people who think they can solve a tech problem, and location of people who can!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Interview: Mr. Lee Dong-dae, Head, Shinhan IB Group

Incorporated on September 1, 2001, Shinhan Financial Group(SFG) was the first privately established financial holding company in Korea. Since inception SFG has developed and introduced a wide range of financial products and services in Korea, and aims to deliver
comprehensive financial solutions to clients through a convenient one-portal network.
SFG currently has 11 subsidiaries offering a wide range of financial products and services, including retail banking, corporate banking, private banking, credit card, asset management, brokerage and insurance services. SFG currently serves approximately 16.1 million active
customers through approximately 17,900 employees at more than 1,390 network branches.
SFG has experienced substantial growth through several mergers and acquisitions. Most notably, the acquisition of Chohung Bank in Sept. 2003 and LG Card in March 2007 have enabled us to build up a nationwide network of branches and a broad customer base.
In addition, SFG has significantly expanded its non-banking business capacity and achieved a balanced business portfolio.In 2009, the group posted a net income of 1.3 trillion won, leading the industry for the second year in a row.
Strategically integrating the extensive competencies of Shinhan Bank in the commercial IB business and Shinhan Investment in the traditional IB business, Shinhan Financial Groups IB Division provides customized IB services catering to the diverse financial needs of corporate customers.
With 47 networks in 14 countries Shinhan IB Group has established global recognition and competence. Shinhan IB group aspires to leverage this and broaden its borders from domestic IB market to the world.
I interviewed Mr. Lee Dong-dae, Executive Vice President, Head of Investment Banking. Excerpts:
The group has shown strong growth in both the quality and range of its services since 1997, when the investment banking market in Korea was barely developed, through initiating new areas of business such as SOC financing, M&A, and ABS and continuing to expand its business.
Thanks to these efforts, Shinhan IB Group provides the best financial services to meet the diverse needs of its clients and is strengthening its position as a leader in the domestic investment banking market by providing professional IB financial services ranging from M&A financing, Ship/ Aircraft financing, Corporate Capex financing, Real Estate Financing, Infrastructure Financing, International PF, Asset Securitization, and Equity Investments
In particular, the Hong Kong IB center was established in 2006 as a part of the group?s global strategy and has provided financial advisory and arrangement services to Korean clients expanding overseas and it has successfully entered the Asian financial markets by jointly providing IB services to Chinese and Southeast Asian clients with other global investment banks.
Furthermore, Shinhan IB has looked beyond its traditional DCM business to identify and discover new sources of revenue and growth such as integrated M&A and Real Estate financial services jointly with other members of the Shinhan Financial Group, establishing infrastructure related funds, devising mezzanine products and mezzanine investments, and devising and providing integrated financial products through inter-department coordination.
“With its extensive Investment Banking experience and capabilities, Shinhan aims to lead value creation for its clients through providing advanced IB services to its clients and to strengthen its global competencies among its departments to strive further in becoming a leading Global Investment Bank.”
Speaking about the various departments of the group, he noted that the IB Business Dept. is responsible B Business Department is responsible for general planning and marketing activities of the IB Group as well as managing and assessing the bank The department is also responsible for financial advisory and arrangement for structured finance, product planning and development, and IB product marketing and large scale syndication support for institutional investors.
The Investment Banking Dept. is responsible for Syndicated Loans including M&A Financing, Capex Financing, Shipping / Aircraft Financing to meet the diverse needs of its clients. The department is also responsible for domestic and foreign direct / indirect equity / mezzanine investments.
The Project Finance Dept. provides a complete service for Project Finance including Real Estate Finance, International PF, Real Estate Funds with abundant project execution experience and knowledgeable professionals.
The HK IB center provides corporate finance advisory and investment advisory services, bond issuance services, and structured financing services for domestic and international clients utilizing the Shinhan global network to meet diverse and complex client needs.
Mr. Lee noted that the IB Group set its strategic goal for 2010 as 斗aying the foundation to become the No. IB player.In line with this goal, it has devised the following four missions;
Expanding deal sourcing and enhancing mediation role
While diversifying deal sourcing products and channels, it will mount a pre-emptive marketing campaign on selected target customers in the IB business sector. Also, the group will proactively expand pre-sales activities tailored to customer needs. It will centralize and expand the syndication business to build strategic partnerships with various institutional investors, and develop various market networks.
Maximizing profits
The group will actively reinforce our capability to develop new revenue sources by pursuing new business areas both domestic and overseas, such as SOC projects in emerging markets and overseas plant and crossborder acquisition financing. In doing so, the group will fully utilize the resources and infrastructure of the Hong Kong IB Center in order to establish a global business model and provide diverse financial solutions. At the same time, it will maximize the profitability of conventional business areas by increasing our deal arrangements in cash-generating businesses, such as M&A, real estate and structured financing.
Establishing an innovative risk management system
The group will build up a systematic preemptive risk management system by completing a checklist for new IB deals and complying with guidelines. Moreover, it will diversify the risk management capacity through organic collaboration with the middle and back offices and systematically monitor markets, industries and corporations as well as providing preemptive responses to risk factors.
Building up the strongest IB infrastructure
The group will maximize our human resources competences through customized training programs, and career road maps for competence development, as well as foster junior IB players. In addition, it will build up research capacity through cooperation with other subsidiaries of the group, including Shinhan FSB Research Institute.
Mr. Lee noted that the most significant trend in real estate market these days is that there are fewer transactions due to the short demand. This implies that real estate market is now facing an adjustment phase. However, it may cause such a burden to the economy if the price drops sharply, so the government should come out with an idea to ease the drop in prices.
As for the office market in Korea, he observed that the t he vacancy rate of Seoul City was 4.9%, which is 0.4% lower than the previous quarter. This implies that the office market is showing signs of recovery.
However, the vacancy rate of GBD (Gangnam Business District) hit 12.1%. Also, office supplies at Yongsan, SangAm, PanGyo and Bundang area are expected to increase the vacancy rate.
In the future, he observed that the mid-sized real estate and the leasable real estate will be profitable due to tax benefits and the profit expectations.
Giving his forecast on the real estate market, he said that in the residential sector, since the government keeps supplying Bogumjari apartments, it is expected that the residential market prices will fall. In the office space, even though the leasing market has still not recovered, the price of office building is still expensive due to the short supply.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Interview: Mr. Yoon Young-sun, Commissioner of Korea Customs Service

In today's world, Customs Administrations around the world fulfill a multi-faceted role on behalf of their governments. They contribute to revenue collection, community protection, trade facilitation and national security. The Korea Customs Service is responsible for enforcing customs and related laws, and for collecting customs duties and other taxes on imported goods. In principle, all commodities, subject to specific conditions, may be imported into Korea unless they are included on the negative list of prohibited or restricted items.
In an interview to me, Mr. Yoon Young-sun, Commissioner of KCS talked about his plans for the agency.
-My vision for the KCS is to make it a frontier organization fully responsible for FTA implementation in Korea. I believe that FTAs, especially the FTA between Korea and the EU, are crucial for recovering the Korean economy and strengthening cooperating between Korea and other economies. Despite the importance of FTAs in the Korean economy, many people believe that once FTAs are concluded between governments, businesses can automatically use advantages of FTAs; however, unless businesses are not prepared to get preferential treatments of FTAs, FTAs per se do not guarantee anything. Thus, the KCS concentrates on getting all businesses in Korea prepared to use FTAs. FTA is often also called fair trade agreement. That is, fairness in trade should be protected for sustaining free trades and providing all participants in FTA regimes. Thus, the KCS does its best to prevent and control illegal trades between Korea and other economies in the middle of implementing FTAs.
-As the SAFE Framework proposed by the World Customs Organization emphasizes harmonization between security and facilitation in trade is a big concern to customs administration in the world. To improve harmonization between the two different goals, customs administrations have strengthened cooperation in securing legitimate trades and controlling illegitimate trades. So does the cooperation between the KCS and customs agencies of the EU.
Specifically, Korea has stepped up its efforts to strengthen cooperation with the EU by signing the Agreement of Cooperation and Mutual Assistance in Customs Matters with the European Commission, Netherlands and Poland. The KCS and the EU Office Europeen de Lutte Anti-Fraude will coordinate their plans of controlling illegitimate trades of fake goods; which will contribute to protection of IPRs and verification of country of origin. The trade facilitation between Korea and the EU will be promoted by concluding the Mutual Recognition Arrangement which is to allow Authorized Economic Operators in EU countries to get the same customs incentives in Korea. The KCS is pushing ahead a plan to send a customs attache to the EC and ask the EC to dispatch one to Korea after the effectuation of the Korea-EU FTA.
-The KCS has a cargo inspection policy that reliable enterprises have a very low chance of getting inspected by customs. The KCS believe that foreign invested enterprises are usually very reliable. As you may have experienced or reported, very few of goods that you owned or handled have been inspected. In addition, foreign invested enterprises receive a favor in paying customs duties. Foreign invested enterprises can clear their goods without paying customs duties at the moment of clearance. They can pay customs duties on a monthly basis.
-The KCS has cracked down on smuggling of IPR infringed goods and detected cases worth of 345.9 billion KRW worth from January to March 2010, among 65% of which was made in China. Korea has beefed up its enforcement activities on IPR violating goods from high-risk countries. Moreover, the KCS has actively engaged in the joint enforcement program with China, called the Fake Zero Project, to detect not only illegal importers but also foreign suppliers.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Invigorating the economy: Interview Mr. Choi Kyung-hwan, Minister of Knowledge Economy

Elected with a national mandate to invigorate the Korean economy, President Lee Myung-bak merged the Ministry of Commerce Industries and Energy (MOCIE) with parts of the Ministry of Information and Communications the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the Ministry of Finance and Economy to create the current Ministry of Knowledge Economy.
Today the Ministry has considerable jurisdiction in creating a more business-friendly environment. It pushes for development of new growth engines by supporting Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) and high-end manufacturing.
It also promotes foreign trade, pursues Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), and champions efficient markets. Furthermore, the Ministry is mandated to engage in energy cooperation projects, expand renewable resources and distribution networks, and craft environmentally-friendly economic policies.
I interviewed Mr. Choi Kyung-hwan, Minister of Knowledge Economy, wherein he outlined his priorities.
-The amount of foreign direct investment in Korea that was reported to the government in the first quarter of 2010 declined 8.2 percent to $1.54 billion; the corresponding figure for 2009 was $1.67 billion. Investment from European countries increased 34 percent, whereas investment from the United States decreased 81 percent and investment from Japan decreased 62 percent. This decline can be attributed mainly to a continued trend toward lower FDI worldwide, the appreciation of Korea currency, and other factors accompanying an overall slowdown in the global economic recovery.
However, positive changes are also taking place. Countries investing in Korea are diversifying, and investment in the service industry has increased 8.6 percent. This will no doubt create jobs. Given the recent acceleration of the global economic recovery and improvements in the domestic investment environment, FDI inflows are expected to pick up after the second quarter.
In addition, the Korean government plans to concentrate its efforts on realizing its FDI target of $13 billion this year. In the short run the government will hold customized national investor relations sessions, taking into account the different needs of advanced and emerging economies. We also intend to resolve difficulties that some foreign-invested companies have experienced by launching a new and more effective system to handle complaints.
In the longer term, the government intends to attract investment by improving its investment environment. We will expand the incentives we offer for investment in industries that can promote sustainable growth. These include green new growth engines such as renewable energy, materials and components, and others. We will also make a concerted effort to attract investment in the service sector, an area with enormous potential for job creation.
-The objective of Korea green growth policy is twofold: to preserve the natural environment and to promote sustainable growth. As of 2007, Korea ranked 38 in the world in terms of GDP per capita. As Korea is a nation with immense growth potential, we must encourage sustainable economic and employment growth by stepping up our efforts to address climate change. This means improving energy efficiency, utilizing clean energy sources, and strengthening industrial competitiveness through industry convergence and R&D innovation.
The Framework Act on Low-Carbon, Green Growth, enacted on April 14, 2010, includes provisions that will allow Korea to set appropriate targets for energy conservation and the reduction of emission levels and to promote green investment through a green certification system. The system and targets will be in place by the end of the year.
The government is working hard to implement proactive policies on renewable energy and energy conservation, and to strengthen the institutional framework for greater utilization of renewable energy. Before the end of May, we intend to finalize our strategy to enter the overseas renewable energy market with the goal of creating an export industry. Before we can adopt the Renewable Portfolio Standard as planned in 2012, the Enforcement Decree will need to be revised; a detailed action plan will be established by the end of June.
The Ministry of Knowledge Economy is working to facilitate green growth and achieve its emissions reduction target by means of various direct and indirect support policies. Going forward, we will continue to provide support for low-carbon, green growth in the form of tax credits and loan programs.
As part of these efforts, we have a program under which companies can borrow as much as 80 percent of the amount they need to invest in energy-saving facilities. Small and midsize companies are eligible to borrow up to 100 percent. In February 2010, the government raised the cash grant ceiling for certain products with the potential to attract foreign direct investment's in the new growth engine and green growth industries.
Indirect support includes tax credits. With the launch of the Green Certification System on April 14, it is now clear to investors which projects fall into the category of green technology projects and which companies are recognized as specialists in the green industry. Once the program is fully operational, relevant government offices will be able to consult with one another on ways to expand tax credits and other support.
-Korea depends on imports for 96.2 percent of its energy needs (2009 figure). According to the International Energy Agency, Korea is the worlds No. 10 consumer of energy and its No. 9 consumer of petroleum (2007 figure). There is a compelling need to enhance energy independence, because fluctuations in international energy prices can have profound effects on key economic indicators such as the current account balance.
By improving energy efficiency and expanding the use of clean energy sources, Korea intends to make a concerted effort to reduce its dependency on fossil fuels to about 60 percent by 2030. We intend to manage demand in various sectors (industry, transport, household, commerce) so as to improve energy efficiency at an annual rate of 2.6 percent between now and then. During the same time frame, we will adjust the nations energy mix so that renewable energy accounts for 11.5 percent and nuclear energy accounts for 27.8 percent. We will also develop the green industry in an effort to transform Korea's industrial structure into one that consumes less energy.
-Given the vulnerable position of small and midsize enterprises (SMEs), most countries are pursuing SME support measures. Korea is no exception and our support measures include tax incentives, general support for businesses, technology development support, and efforts by public bodies to procure the products of SMEs.
Because SMEs were less competitive than large companies, they were hit especially hard when the global financial crisis struck in September 2008. Accordingly, the Korean government took prompt measures to overcome the crisis. We provided a massive injection of liquidity for SMEs we extended the maturity date on 160 trillion won worth of loans to SMEs, expanded loan guarantees by 37 trillion won, and increased the guarantee rate as much as 100 percent in some cases.
The government now plans to revise its SME support policies to ensure that they reflect the interests of the self-employed, small traders and small enterprises. Our goal is to promote the development of SMEs and help them grow stronger. At the same time, the government will adhere to the principle of fair competition. By nurturing and supporting SMEs, we will encourage those with potential to pursue development step by step into larger companies.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Well said!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Korea's Green Growth Strategy: Interview with Minister of Environment Mr. Lee Man-ee

President Lee Myung-bak has put low carbon and green growth as the core of a new vision for Korea. Since his inauguration in February 2008, Korea has been preparing to become a leading country in developing green technology and achieving sustainable growth, with the growing public awareness of the importance of green energy and green technology.
The country is also concentrating on supporting research and development in alternative energy and renewable energy areas, which is to transform the entire country. Now a big change is taking place around the entire country, with a strong will to make Korea into a greener, future-leading nation.
The progress on this front has been really good, and even the UN Environment Program has praised the government for these efforts. In a recent report, UNEP has noted that Korea is not only carrying out national eco-friendly policies but also leading global efforts for green growth.
It is in this context that I met with Minister of Environment Mr. Lee Man-ee, to seek his view on the environment policies. Excerpts:
-Korea will improve the quality of environmental services with which citizens can be satisfied. To this end, the country will control hazardous materials for the public health, enhance water welfare of the economically vulnerable, create high added values of natural resources including eco-tourism, advance the weather forecast service, reduce food waste and so on.
Second, Korea will advance environmental policies, contributing to enhancing Koreas profile on the global stage. In order to meet the goal, the country will provide necessary support for a successful holding of the 2010 World Conservation Congress (WCC) so that Korea becomes an environmentally-advanced nation. On top of that, Korea will advance the environmental regulation, while at the same time expanding its support for developing nations to build their environmental capacities.
Third, Korea will put its utmost policy efforts to achieve a low-carbon society. So, it will actively promote a firstcampaign for green lifestyle among the Korean citizens. In order to cut greenhouse gas emissions, the country will strengthen its mechanism to adapt to climate change and develop renewable energy including Waste to Energy.
Last, Korea will try to remove the misunderstanding of the Four Major Rivers Restoration Project, which is a core green growth project of the government. By successfully implementing the Project, the country will restore the river-basin ecosystems and clean water.
-Green technologies are a prerequisite for sustainable growth. Therefore, the Korean government will create green growth engines with a view to improving the global competitiveness of Korean companies to become a global green leader. In addition, in order to meet the mid-term target of cutting GHG emissions and to commercialize the green technologies in a short time, the country will focus on the ten core green technologies including the next generation rechargeable battery, LED light/display, and high-efficient solar cell. For the purpose of creating new jobs, the country will support creating 1,000 venture companies based on green technologies by 2013.
-The Copenhagen Accord provides a direction to the key issues of the post-Kyoto negotiations, which were rather difficult for the state heads to agree upon. For the following negotiations regarding climate change, the Accord is expected to serve as a foundation which suggests political guidelines.
As a follow-up of the Copenhagen Accord, the global community will have to make concrete and practical outcome on climate change-related issues such as the mid-to long-term reduction targets, financial issues and MRV (Measurement, Reporting and Verification).
-The symbolic implications which COP 18 entails is significant as the conference will bridge the Kyoto protocol covering 2008 through 2012 and the post-Kyoto regime starting from 2013.
By holing COP18 in 2012, Korea will be able to advance its climate change adaptation policies and at the same time to alert Korean citizens to the urgency of climate change issues.
More importantly, Korea痴 profile will be enhanced as a green nation, which befits its national vision of Low Carbon, Green Growth. So the country will contribute to the going green of the world with its improved profile and influence on global environmental issues.
-The 5th World Conservation Congress will be held in Jeju, Korea for a 10-day period in 2012 with about 900 events containing the plenary session, regional meetings, workshop sessions, exhibitions, etc.
The participants of the 2012 WCC will have comprehensive discussions on a wide range of topics including conservation of the ecosystems, improvement of bio-diversity and climate change adaptation.
As a host of the 2012 WCC, Korea will lead the global dialogues on global environmental issues. In addition, Korea is expected to be recognized by the global community as an environmentally-advanced nation.
As more than 10 thousand participants from throughout the world will visit Korea to attend the 2012 WCC, Korea is expecting over 90 billion Korean won worth of direct economic effects.