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Sale process of KDB Life insurer gains traction

The state-owned Korea Development Bank`s headoffice in Seoul. (Yonhap)
The state-owned Korea Development Bank`s headoffice in Seoul. (Yonhap)

The state-owned Korea Development Bank will soon pick a preferred bidder for KDB Life Insurance, which it recently put up for sale after acquiring it a decade ago, according to news reports Wednesday.

Private equity fund JC Partners is widely believed to have been shortlisted.

“JC Partners is the only interested party that has completed due diligence so far,” an official from the policy bank was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency.

The private equity firm reportedly plans to buy the 92.73 percent controlling stake in the insurer for 200 billion won ($164 million) and additionally raise 300 billion won by issuing new shares.

KDB, in a partnership with Consus Private Equity, took over the life insurer, then named Kumho Life, in March 2010 from conglomerate Kumho Asiana Group for 650 billion won.

Kumho Asiana was then reeling from a liquidity crunch due to excessive debt after acquiring construction firm Daewoo E&C and logistics company Daehan Tongwoon Express.

Since the acquisition of the life insurer, KDB is said to have spent an additional 600 billion won to bring the insurer back on track. Despite efforts to keep the insurance firm afloat, the company posted an operating loss for three years in a row from 2016. The insurance company, however, earned 34.4 billion won in net profit in 2019.

KDB sought to sell the money-bleeding insurance firm from 2014 to 2016.

Talks on its sale gained momentum again late last year when KDB Chairman Lee Dong-gull hinted that the potential selling price could be lowered to 200 billion won.

“Details for the bidding process have not been decided yet,” said the policy bank in a statement, adding it is still reviewing candidate bidders.

By Kim Young-won (