SC First Bank, the South Korea unit of Standard Chartered Plc, said Wednesday that it has renamed itself Standard Chartered Bank Korea in a bid to strengthen the link between the local unit and its parent group.
The previous name, SC First Bank, has been in use since the British banking group acquired the First Bank of Korea in 2005.
"Changing our name now is very symbolic," Richard Hill, chief executive of the Korean branch, said at a press meeting.
"We aim to provide a bridge between Korean businesses and those markets in which Korean trade is expanding most rapidly."
The South Korean unit was Standard Chartered's sole overseas affiliate that had operated under its local name, as part of the British bank's efforts to fit into the Korean market. Some South Koreans still harbor uneasiness toward overseas investors' acquisitions of local firms.
Established in 1958, the First Bank was among the five major lenders that led the economic development in South Korea in the 60s and the 70s before it was hit by the Asian financial crisis in 1998.
The acquisition of the First Bank helped prop up the retail banking business of the British firm, which was previously focused on corporate banking.
But its move to overhaul the seniority-based salary scheme stirred up vehement opposition from the labor union.
More than 2,000 unionized workers out of its 6,500 local employees staged the longest strike in South Korea's bank history in June, forcing a shutdown of around 10 percent of the bank's domestic branches for over two months. As of January, 15 branches still remain closed.
While Standard Chartered is undecided about whether to resume operations at these branches it expects to start its relationship with the labor union anew with the name change, a high-ranking executive said.
"We recently had elections for a new union leader, so we'll be working with a new union leader rather than the previous one," Tim Miller, director of Standard Chartered Korea Ltd., told reporters.
Standard Chartered Bank Korea also recently conducted a reorganization and reshuffle. The company trimmed down its workforce with around 20 executive-level employees and some 800 low-rank employees retiring last year.