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ING Life Korea sale process begins

The sale process for ING Life Korea has commenced, according to industry sources Wednesday.

Asian buyout firm MBK Partners plans to sell its stake in the South Korea’s fifth-largest insurance company by assets in a deal estimated at $3 billion. 

MBK, which bought ING Life Korea in 2013 from ING Group at $1.7 billion, kicked off the sale process by sending out financial information to potential bidders. Morgan Stanley is the main manager of the deal.

More than a dozen potential bidders including Korea’s major players in the insurance sector such as Hanwha Life Insurance and Kyobo Life Insurance as well as China’s Ping An Insurance are showing interest in the deal.

An official at an investment bank said competition among Chinese investors over ING Life Korea is expected to be intensified. “A considerable number of Chinese firms already showed their intention to acquire the firm prior to the official sale process,” he said.

MBK is seeking to have letters of intent from bidders by the end of May.

Since MBK took over the firm, its total assets have grown to 30 trillion won ($26.2 billion) as of end of 2015 from 23 trillion in 2013.

Last year, ING Life Korea posted net income of 305 billion won, up 36.3 percent from earlier while its net profit rose 22 percent to 304.8 billion won.

By Park Han-na (