Published : 2013-10-24 19:28
Updated : 2013-10-24 19:28
A group of overseas investors are likely to participate in the coming bidding for the public-funds-injected Woori Bank and Woori Finance Holdings, according to market insiders on Thursday.
Financial market participants raised the possibility, noting that Kyobo Life Insurance is reportedly considering forming a consortium with global firms to bid for the largest financial group in Korea.
Among the firms are investment banks such as Softbank, Macquarie Group and JPMorgan, according to the report.
A spokesman of Kyobo Life neither confirmed or denied the report, saying that the insurance firm had “yet to release its official stance over the Woori privatization.”
Citing the non-urgent auction timetable, slated for between early 2014 and late 2014 under financial authorities’ plan, he added that “it appears to be premature” to verify the names of the potential investors.
Market insiders, however, are paying close attention to whether or not foreign investors will actually join the bidding, as public sentiment has been skeptical since U.S. Lone Star Funds stirred controversy during its ownership of Korea Exchange Bank.
Some say their participation, if realized, will be carried out in the form of strategic partnership with local companies like the speculated scenario at Kyobo Life.
Last year, Kyobo dropped its bids for Woori Financial Group after seeking a joint bidding in collaboration with IMM Private Equity.
A regulatory official has hinted that Kyobo’s interest is still valid, but stressed that “being solely an insurance company is limiting in terms of market share, especially because they have to compete with life insurance firms affiliated with conglomerates.”
Woori Bank’s assets come to 266 trillion won ($230 billion), accounting for 75 percent of Woori Financial subsidiaries’ combined assets.
While the financial group plans to merge its holding company Woori Finance Holdings with Woori Bank before going to auction, it is still debating between the credit card unit and the financial research unit to include in the sales batch.
The Financial Services Commission announced in June that the regulator plans to complete the deal or hand over shares to the preferred bidder by October 2014.