South Korea’s KB Financial Group is taking steps to adopt the stewardship code, a guideline for institutional investors to exercise their voting rights, across its units, joining its rivals at home and abroad that have already decided to adopt the guidelines.
KB Financial Group said on Monday that six of its 12 financial subsidiaries including its commercial banking and insurance service arms are getting ready to adopt the stewardship code by the end of this year. The adaptation process will start with the asset management unit, and its all 12 units are expected to abide by the guidelines by early next year, the company said.
A stewardship code is a set of guidelines for institutional investors to exert their voting rights to promote investor’s active involvement in corporate management such as in the decision-making of merger and acquisitions and dividend payouts with a goal of maximizing shareholder benefit.
The stewardship code was first introduced in the United Kingdom in 2010, and around ten countries including the Netherlands, Canada, and Japan so far have adopted the code. In Asia, Japan was the first to introduce the stewardship code and its stock market index has jumped nearly 40 percent in just a year and a half since the adoption in January 2014.
Korean institutional investors had remained unenthusiastic to the move until recently after the code was first introduced to the country by Corporate Governance Service under the umbrella of Korea Exchange in December last year.
But recently some public funds and major private financial groups have decided to adopt the guidelines.
Korea’s public financial institutions including sovereign fund Korea Investment Corp. and National Pension Fund already announced their plan to adopt the code, and among the private players, large asset managers and private equity funds are taking a lead in the move of adopting the new guideline.
The country’s another leading financial conglomerate Shinhan Financial Group also has taken a step to adopt the stewardship code at its units. Its asset management unit Shinhan Private Equity Inc. already has introduced the code, and its other affiliates including Shinhan BNP Paribas Asset Management will also adopt the code. The group plans to implement the new guideline across its units that handle investment on behalf of customers like asset managers first, said an unnamed Shinhan group official.
By Han Ye-kyung and Park Yoon-ye
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