Magazine article American Banker

Hanmi CEO Sohn Explains Resignation

Magazine article American Banker

Hanmi CEO Sohn Explains Resignation

Article excerpt

It has been a difficultyear for Hanmi Financial Corp. of Los Angeles, but Sung Won Sohn said that is not why he is resigning as its president and chief executive.

Mr. Sohn, who was once the top economist at Wells Fargo & Co., said he is leaving so he can teach economics at a Southern California university,serve on corporate boards (which he cannot do under Hanmi's bylaws), and, he hopes, land a role in the administration of South Korea's new president, former Hyundai CEO Lee Myung-bak.

"There's nothing definite, but I'm hoping I could be helpful to a new government," Mr. Sohn, 62, said in an interview Friday. "Those are really the reasons. It's really not related to credit quality or stock price. I've been talking to the board about this for a while."

He would not say whether he had been offered a position in the new government.

The $4 billion-asset Hanmi announced late Thursday that Mr. Sohn was stepping down today as president and CEO and would resign from Hanmi's board. The interim president and CEO will be Chung Hoon Youk, who formerly held those titles at Hanmi and has also been rehired as the bank's chief credit officer.

Mr. Sohn took the helm at Hanmi in January 2005. Brett D. Rabatin, an analyst with First Horizon National Corp.'s FTN Midwest Securities, said Mr. Sohn accomplished plenty in his three years at Hanmi but might have been a victim of unrealistic expectations.

At Wells, Mr. Sohn had become one of the nation's best-known and best-respected economists, so "out of the gate he was already set on a pedestal," Mr. …

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