The launch of the International Financial Centre Seoul (IFC Seoul), on November 29, 2012, was the South Korean government’s latest bid to improve the country's status as one of Asia’s leading financial hubs. Seoul’s performance as a financial centre continues to trail that of Hong Kong and Singapore, which remain the region’s foremost financial hubs. Located in Yeouido, which is Seoul's main business and investment banking district, IFC Seoul is part of a government initiative to attract global financial companies to operate in the city’s financial sector.
Development of IFC Seoul started in 2005, and formed part of the government’s plans to rejuvenate the Yeouido district in order to boost the city’s international status as a credible rival to Hong Kong and Singapore. In its 2012 Global Financial Centres Index, think tank Z/Yen Group ranked Hong Kong and Singapore as the third and fourth leading global international financial centres, respectively, while Seoul was ranked in sixth place. Hong Kong has established itself as a gateway into China while Singapore has built a reputation as a hub for wealth management and private banking.
Designed to combine “economics, culture and tourism”, according to Invest Seoul, IFC Seoul will include commercial offices, luxury hotels and a retail shopping centre. IFC Seoul has already attracted 28 financial institutions, including Deloitte and the Bank of New York Mellon. Hotel chain Hilton’s flagship brand, Conrad Hotel & Resorts, has also established a luxury hotel within IFC Seoul.
Speaking at the hotel’s launch in mid-November, Martin Rinck, the president for Asia-Pacific at Hilton Worldwide, said: “We are confident that this… property will be a great fit for the sophisticated IFC Seoul, and will successfully cater to the ever increasing number of global, affluent travellers to this popular city destination.”