"I will create an integrated financial service group that has never been seen in Korea." It was a pledge Choi Yoon (54), a third-generation Korean-Japanese and chairman of Apro Service Group, made while traveling to Korea from Japan back in 1999. For someone who had had no prior experience in financial service, it was a bold gambit and there were so many of his friends who advised against it.
His dreams are slowly taking shape 18 years after his arrival in Seoul in 1999. Last Friday, Apro Service Group was selected as the preferred bidder to acquire eBest Investment & Securities. More widely known as its moneylending business brand name "Rush and Cash," Apro is set to move into the securities business after taking over a savings bank and a capital firm.
In order to achieve his goal of buying eBest Investment, he decided to withdraw from the lucrative moneylending business as it has been the biggest obstacle for his group to be approved for the acquirer of a mainstream financial service firm. The group's offer price of 350 billion won was by far the highest among all bidders including Whale Investment and Cape Investment & Securities.
For a young businessman in his mid-30s with seed money of 20 billion won from a Korean restaurant in Japan, he launched a small moneylending company "One Cashing." In 2004, he acquired A&O International, a Japanese money lender, and created the "Rush and Cash" brand.
The final obstacle for Apro is whether it will clear the regulatory hurdle. In 2014 when it was given approval for purchasing OK Savings Bank, it was given a go-ahead by the Financial Supervisory Service on condition that it would reduce its loan assets in the moneylending unit by 40 percent until 2019.
After a controversy over moneylending businesses Hello Credit and Yellow Capital run by his younger brother Choi Ho won't be subject to the 40-percent loan asset reduction pledge, he announced that all companies including those run by his brother will be a included in the asset reduction measure, reaffirming his will to create a financial empire.