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KDB plans faster exit from bailed-out companies

[THE INVESTOR] Korea Development Bank, a state policy bank under fire for mismanagement of bailed-out companies, said on June 23 it would exit from its ownership of 46 companies this year, raising the count by 10 from its earlier plan.

“From 2016 to 2018, we’ll be exiting from our investments in 132 nonfinancial companies,” the Seoul-based bank said in a statement.

After the planned 46 sales this year, the auction process will begin for 44 companies in 2017 and for another 42 in 2018. 

KDB chairman Lee Dong-geol.
KDB chairman Lee Dong-geol.

The sale plan is part of a road map for reform unveiled by KDB on Thursday ahead of government-led recapitalization of the lender and also state-run Korea Export-Import Bank of Korea, heavily exposed to distressed shipping and shipbuilding sectors.

It also comes amid mounting criticism from the public and media over its integrity, credibility and capability to lead corporate restructuring.

“We take this as an opportunity to change ourselves. Through measures announced today, we want to be reborn,” the bank’s chairman Lee Dong-geol told a press conference at its head office in Seoul.

KDB, which in past crises had acted as the main body for state-led corporate bailouts, is accused of having sat idle during a 1.5 trillion-won ($1.3 billion) accountancy fraud at Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering. KDB has been the shipbuilder’s largest shareholder and creditor since a bailout in 2000. DSME’s chief financial officer at the time of the alleged accounting fraud was a former KDB executive.

Despite doubts, KDB’s role and influence will likely grow, as Korea braces for a new round of corporate overhauls.

The government has recently finalized a plan to boost the capital base of KDB and Eximbank, with 10 trillion won of central bank money.

According to the road map, the KDB will form a committee with outside experts that will devise action plans for the reform and oversee their implementation.

“We will also set up a corporate-restructuring advisory panel, consisting of academics and private experts in law, accounting, mergers and acquisitions or the industrial field concerned, to help a successful restructuring of the bailed-out companies,” KDB said.

By Lee Sun-young & Park Hyong-ki (milaya@heraldcorp.com) (hkp@heraldcorp.com)



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