Hanwha is mulling a slice of Woori

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Hanwha is mulling a slice of Woori

Major local life insurers are vying to acquire stakes in Woori Bank after the government announced its plan to sell a 30 percent stake in splinters of 4-8 percent to multiple buyers.

Hanwha Life Insurance, the second largest life insurer, said it is considering purchasing a stake in Woori Bank, the company confirmed in a disclosure on Friday.

Kyobo Life Insurance also said Friday that it’s mulling a purchase while stressing that details have yet to be decided.

Local news outlets reported that Hanwha is looking into buying a minimum of 4 percent, but a source at Hanwha said that nothing has been decided.

“Woori is one of top four banks in Korea, delivering stable profits,” the source said, “But the majority of the executive board has to vote for the decision.”

Hanwha is expected to hold a meeting of its board of directors to put the issue to a vote on Sept. 22, a day before a deadline for accepting letters of intent.

Bidding will be closed some time in November and the winning bids will be announced in the same month, according to the Financial Services Commission.

The insurance companies are looking at different kinds of partnerships with Woori since Hanwha and Kyobo don’t have banking affiliates.

The insurers are interested in so-called bancassurance, a strategy in which an insurance company uses a bank’s sales channel to sell insurance products.

Investors who buy the proposed 4-8 percent stake will be entitled to recommend outside directors and even the chief of Woori Bank.

It is not the first time for Kyobo to participate in bidding for Woori. In 2014, the insurance company tried to buy a controlling stake of Woori but the attempt fell apart.

BY PARK EUN-JEE [park.eunjee@joongang.co.kr]
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