Pepper Group, an Australia-based specialty residential mortgage and consumer financing services provider, has acquired the South Korean mutual savings bank, formerly known as Evergreen Savings Bank, for an undisclosed amount.

Established in 1982, Evergreen Savings Bank has two retail branch locations in Ansan and Bundang, near Seoul. It has total assets worth $175.9m and is mainly funded by customer deposits worth $152.2m.

Pepper’s executive chairman Mike Culhane said the acquisition is highly strategic for the business and will enable them to initiate a long-term presence in South Korea.

"The opportunity to establish a retail savings bank, led by a strong local management team, will enable Pepper to leverage its core skills in credit underwriting and asset management in a financial services market with strong regulatory controls and a proven appetite for competitive consumer deposit and lending products," Culhane.

Following the acquisition, Evergreen Savings Bank will be renamed to Pepper Savings Bank.

Pepper’s managing director and chief executive officer Patrick Tuttle said they have been closely monitoring the mutual savings bank sector in South Korea for more than two years, looking for the right opportunity to invest in an established platform with a sound customer base and balance sheet.

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"After completing detailed financial and legal due diligence on Evergreen Savings Bank, we believe we are acquiring a solid platform from which to launch a more traditional retail banking strategy in South Korea, with a view to taking the Bank back to more grass roots consumer and small business lending, backed by a competitive retail deposit book," Tuttle added.


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