The Korea Herald

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Road map for Woori Finance sale due out next week: FSC

By 신용배

Published : May 11, 2011 - 19:07

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Korea will unveil its road map for the sale of a controlling stake in the second-biggest banking group Woori Finance Holdings Co. next week in a bid to restart its stalled privatization, the financial regulator said Wednesday.

The Public Fund Oversight Committee, which handles the sale of state-owned firms, will announce on May 17 how to sell the 56.97 percent government stake in Woori Finance, the Financial Services Commission said.

The FSC, which controls the oversight committee, has been scurrying to resume the Woori Finance sale that has been stalled since December.

The regulator suspended the process to sell the stake in December after two consortia, each led by Woori Finance’s employee and customer groups, withdrew their intentions to bid for the stake, citing excess premium costs needed to take over the share.

The FSC has since expressed its willingness to relax standards on potential buyers’ eligibility and stake pricing in a bid to lure a wider range of willing buyers.

State-owned KDB Financial Group Inc.’s chairman Kang Man-soo flagged earlier in the month his intention to jump in the race to take over the major banking group, with market leader KB Financial Group Inc. and Shinhan Financial Group Co. also reportedly considering participation.

Woori Finance was created a decade ago as the financial holding company for the already existent Woori Bank and its financial affiliates that are controlled by the government.

The government gained control of Woori Finance by bailing out a handful of financial firms that were later consolidated as one financial group in the aftermath of the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.

The sitting Lee Myung-bak administration has moved to privatize a handful of state-controlled firms bailed out with taxpayers’ money as part of his political campaign. 

(Yonhap News)