18 investors apply to buy 10% stake in Woori Financial Group

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18 investors apply to buy 10% stake in Woori Financial Group

Woori Financial Group's headquarters in Seoul. [NEWS1]

Woori Financial Group's headquarters in Seoul. [NEWS1]

 
The Financial Service Commission (FSC) on Friday announced that 18 investors including financial companies, private equity fund and overseas investors have applied for the acquisition of Woori Financial Group.
 
The government has been trying to privatize the financial group since it was first founded 23 years ago. The government is selling a maximum 10 percent of the 15.13 percent remaining stake that Korea Deposit Insurance owns.
 
The National Pension Service is the second biggest single stakeholder with 9.8 percent.
 
According to local media, telecoms company KT and construction firm Hoban Construction are among the companies interested in the acquisition.
 
While the existing law limits non-financial companies from owning more than a 4 percent stake in a bank, an exception allows such companies to increase their stakes to up to 10 percent if they waive voting rights.
 
According to the FSC, the deadline for the final bid on the banking group’s acquisition is Nov. 18. The final pick will be made on Nov. 22.
 
Woori Financial Group was created in 2001 by combining a number of troubled Korean banks including Hanvit Bank due to the 1997-1998 financial crisis.
 
The government at the time injected 12.7 trillion won to bail out the bank. The government has long been trying to recoup the public funds by selling its stakes but with little success.
 
Since 2013, the government has been recovering its investment by selling off Woori affiliates as well as selling the stakes in the banks.
 
As of last year, the government has retrieved 11.2 trillion won.
 
Woori Financial Group was Korea’s first financial holding company.

BY LEE HO-JEONG [lee.hojeong@joongang.co.kr]
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