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NongHyup picked as top bidder for Woori Investment

NongHyup picked as top bidder for Woori Investment

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Published : 2013-12-24 20:06
Updated : 2013-12-24 20:06

NongHyup Financial Group Inc. was picked Tuesday as the preferred bidder for three units of state-run Woori Finance Holdings Co., as the government pushes for the long-pending privatization aimed at recouping the bailout money put in more than a decade ago.

South Korea's largest banking firm by asset chose NongHyup to buy Woori Investment & Securities Co., WooriAviva Life Insurance Co. and Woori FG Savings Bank at a board meeting, the bank said.

Woori Asset Management Co., also included in the sales package, is expected to be acquired by local brokerage firm Kiwoom Securities Co.

The four Woori units are one of the three sales batches grouped by the government to privatize Woori Finance and its 13 affiliates for the fourth time after repeated failures since 2010, largely due to a lack of buyers.

The financial terms of the final bids, submitted at the closing auction on Dec. 16, were not immediately available, but NongHyup has apparently tendered 1.15 trillion won ($1.08 billion) for a controlling 37.9 percent stake in the brokerage firm and entire stakes in the other two units, according to market sources familiar with the matter.

Kiwoom offered the highest price of 85 billion won for the asset manager arm, which is well above its anticipated minimum value of 70 billion won.

KB Financial Group Inc., South Korea's second-largest banking firm, was considered another strong would-be buyer of the Woori units but lost the bid to NongHyup due to a lower price offering.

PineStreet Group, an alternative investment and advisory firm, wanted to buy Woori Investment and Woori Asset Management for about the same price as NongHyup. However, the firm's insecure funding status became a setback.

The deal is expected to mark another turning point for NongHyup, a financial cooperative originally set up to support farmers before growing into a financial holding company with assets worth 255 trillion won as of September.

NH Investment & Securities Co., a minor player under NongHyup's wing, will be transformed into the top securities firm in the country with 35.5 trillion won in assets and an equity capital of

4.3 trillion won once it merges with Woori Investment, the current No. 1 by assets, market analysts said.

Its size will far surpass that of No. 2 brokerage house KDB Daewoo Securities Co., which has assets worth 27 trillion won followed by the third-biggest Samsung Securities Co. with 20 trillion in assets as of end-September.

Woori Finance, worth 320 trillion won in assets, was established in 2001 by merging five troubled banks with a 13 trillion won bailout injection in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s. (Yonhap News)

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