SocGen Gets New S. Korea License for Derivatives, Brokerage

Societe Generale SA (GLE) said it won regulatory approval in South Korea to begin operations at a new local unit as it seeks to expand its derivatives and brokerage businesses in the country.

The Paris-based bank obtained a license from the country’s financial regulator to trade securities including over-the-counter derivatives and offer financial-investment brokerage services under SG Securities Korea Co., Societe Generale said in a statement today. Currently, the Seoul branch of the lender’s Hong Kong unit is allowed to operate some of the businesses in the country, according to the statement.

Societe Generale, which said it has invested 200 billion won ($178 million) in South Korea since 2011, is reorganizing its operations in the country, as local sales of structured notes for individual investors have surged. The new unit will take over the bank’s existing businesses in the nation, and new resources will be added, according to the statement.

Revamped local operations will allow the bank to be a “fully fledged provider of financial services for its Korean clients” including structured products, Inhwan Oh, head of SG Securities Korea, said in the statement.

Issuance of structured notes for individual investors soared 54 percent to a record 70 trillion won last year, according to data from Korea Financial Investment Association. Such securities are created by bundling derivatives with debt instruments to generate returns tied to the underlying assets, from equities to currencies to commodities.

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