Nonghyup chief’s abrupt exit stirs debate
With less than 100 days at the helm of the newly-launched Nonghyup Financial Group, Chairman Shin Choong-shik has offered to resign, raising plenty of speculation surrounding his abrupt exit.
Some industry watchers think that Shin was forced to step down by the government to open a door for one of President Lee Myung-bak’s confidants to manage the country’s fifth largest financial group.
But others say that Nonghyup may want to voluntarily recruit an influential figure among bureaucrats who served key ministerial positions with the current administration in order to help itself better compete with larger rivals.
They say the next chairman will not be selected from the organization’s labor pool.
The group said Thursday that Shin had expressed his intent to step down as chairman but he will continue to work as president of Nonghyup Bank, the group’s flagship unit.
On March 2, the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, or Nonghyup, was divided into two entities _ a financial firm and an agricultural products distributor. At first, Nonghyup had planned to select a group chairman and bank president separately.
But due to escalating controversies over personnel appointments, Shin, a former Nonghyup vice president, was tapped to serve both posts.
``In a bid to stabilize both organizations at an early stage, Shin has held the two positions concurrently. But it is time for him to focus only on how to effectively manage Nonghyup Bank, while letting someone else be in charge of the holding firm,’’ the financial group said.
It plans to hold a board of directors’ meeting next week to form a personnel appointment committee to select a new chairman.
Several former high-ranking government officials who served in the current administration have been named by media outlets.
They include Yoon Jeung-hyun, former strategy and finance minister; Chin Dong-soo, former financial services commission chairman; Lee Chol-hwi, former president of Korea Asset Management Corp.; and Kwon Tae-shin, former minister of the prime minister’s office.
However, Nonghyup’s labor union has vowed to oppose the so-called ``parachute personnel appointment.’’ With the union set to go on strike over a memorandum of understanding recently signed between the government and Nonghyup’s management for the organizational overhaul, appointing an outsider as the new head of the financial group will likely face strong opposition from workers.