SC Bank Korea chief may depart over setbacks

Richard Hill, the chief executive of Standard Chartered Bank Korea.

SOUTH KOREA- Richard Hill, the chief executive of Standard Chartered Bank Korea, will likely step down from the post and leave South Korea amid a shake-up at the struggling UK bank that is bracing for its first fall in profits in a decade.

Hill may be transferred to the bank's Indonesia unit after nearly six years in Korea despite having almost two years left on his term. Ajay Kanwal, the current president and chief operating officer at Standard Chartered Bank in Taiwan, is likely to take over his post, the local media said quoting sources from financial regulators in Korea.

"We're informed (that) a change to the head of SC Bank Korea and a new chief would be appointed in March," an official from Korea's Financial Supervisory Service was quoted as saying by Yonhap News.

Neither the financial regulator nor the bank have officially confirmed the departure of the British CEO.

"We can't comment on this matter before the board meeting in March," an official from the bank's Korea office told The Korea Herald.

But his departure was widely expected among market analysts as the UK-listed bank's Korean business suffered a number of setbacks last year, including a $1 billion writedown and leaked customer information. All of this contributed to it being the worst performer among Britain's five biggest banks.

The news also comes amid a reshuffling of the London-based banking group, which announced recently that its two top executives who oversaw the Korean business ― chief financial officer Richard Meddings and Steve Bertamini, head of the consumer-banking unit ― would both step down from the board and leave the banking group in the first half this year, in part because of the disappointing performance in Asian markets.

Hill joined the bank in Singapore in 2006 as the chief financial officer of that branch, and then relocated to Seoul in January 2008 as the executive vice president of the Korean subsidiary. He has served as CEO of the Korean unit since December 2009.

"I love living in Korea; definitely a fascinating place to live," the British CEO had said in an interview with The Korea Herald after being awarded Seoul honorary citizenship in October 2013.