Likely Woori bidders quietWith the government laying out details of its privatization plan for Woori Financial Group, the attention has turned to potential buyers.
On Wednesday, the Financial Services Commission announced it will split Woori Financial affiliates into three groups - regional banks, brokerage affiliates and the flagship Woori Bank - to be sold.
The sale of the first batch of affiliates - the regional banks - is likely to be the most volatile. When the FSC presented the road map for Woori Financial sales, regional chambers of commerce and industry as well as residents expressed strong opposition.
“It is a pity that the [government’s plan] doesn’t include giving regional consortium primary negotiating rights, but rather stated the principle of free-market competition,” said Choi Joong-kyung, head of Kyongnam Bank’s labor union. “If [the government] doesn’t state detailed plans that are considerate of the people in South Gyeongsang when it issues the public sale notice, it will face strong resistance from 3.4 million provincial residents and regional businessmen.”
The FSC will give a public sales notice for Kyongnam Bank and Kwangju Bank on July 15.
As regional pressure mounts, Busan Bank, Daegu Bank and Jeonbuk Bank are taking a cautious approach. The regional institutions have been mentioned as potential buyers of Kyongnam and Kwangju banks.
“We think Kwangju Bank is attractive, but we plan to approach the issue carefully, taking into consideration the emotions of people in Gwangju,” said a Busan Bank official.
While Busan Bank and Daegu Bank have been considered competitors for Kyongnam Bank, they remain passive.
“We will wait silently until the official sales notice is announced,” said an official at Daegu Bank.
Competition to acquire Woori Investment and Securities and other brokerage firms, which will be on the market in August, is expected to be fierce. According to industry insiders, KB Financial Group could be interested in buying Woori Financial Group’s securities arm in part to boost its small and midsize KB Investment and Securities. Nonghyup Financial also has its eyes on Woori Investment and Securities.
As for Woori Bank, which will go on sale in January, Kyobo Life Insurance has expressed interest.
BY LEE EUN-JOO, LEE TAE-KYUNG [firstname.lastname@example.org]
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