Gov’t inks equity sale contract for Woori

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Gov’t inks equity sale contract for Woori

The state-run Korea Deposit Insurance Corporation (KDIC), the largest shareholder of Woori Bank, signed an equity sale contract worth 2.4 trillion won ($2.1 billion) with winning bidders looking for a cut of the bank’s shares on Thursday, inching closer to fully privatizing the bank.

By Dec. 14, the government corporation will complete selling its combined 29.7 percent stake in Woori Bank to seven selected bidders: IMM Private Equity, Tong Yang Life Insurance, Eugene Asset Management, Kiwoom Securities, Korea Investment & Securities, Hanwha Life Insurance and Mirae Asset Global Investments.

The KDIC said it would sell the remaining 21.4 percent shares of Woori “soon” but declined to comment on the exact time frame. “As for the remaining stakes held by the Korea Deposit Insurance Corporation, we will push for the sales process as soon as possible considering the gains associated with privatization efforts,” said Gwak Bum-gook, head of the KDIC.

Gwak reiterated that the state-run corporation will maintain minimum engagement in the management of Woori Bank when the deal closes. “The group of new shareholders will take a leading role, and we will follow the decisions,” he said.

The new stakeholders have submitted recommendations for an outside director, and Woori Bank will select one by the end of this year.

The KDIC has also pledged to stand on the sidelines when Woori Bank appoints a new CEO next year. “A committee led by the newly-appointed board director will took the lead in selecting the new CEO, and the director representing the Korea Deposit Insurance Corporation won’t be a part of the committee,” Gwak said.

Under the deal, Seoul-based IMM Private Equity will acquire the largest stake, 6 percent, while Mirae is acquiring the smallest portion, 3.7 percent. Hanwha Life, Tong Yang Life Insurance (owned by China’s Anbang Insurance Group), Eugene Asset Management, Korea Investment & Securities and Kiwoom Securities will each buy a 4 percent stake.

Gwak added that the KDIC will pursue an equity sale of Hanwha Life. It had acquired a 100 percent stake in the life insurance company in the wake of the 1997 Asian financial crisis but has reduced its share to 15.25 percent.

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