RETAIL BANKING | Tony Chua, Korea

MBK Partners faces two rivals in bidding for Woori

Goldman Sachs and Canada Pension Plan joined MBK in its attempt to seal South Korea’s biggest banking privatization deal.

U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Canada Pension Plan Investment Board have decided to join private equity firm MBK Partners in a bid for Woori Finance Holdings Co Ltd , the country head of MBK Partners said.

Yoon Jong-ha told Reuters in an interview that in the race for South Korea’s biggest banking privatization deal, MBK Partners had completed fundraising and would submit a preliminary bid by the Wednesday deadline.

However, recent plunges on world stock markets have left the government’s up to $6-billion (U.S.) Woori stake auction in doubt again as the two other potential buyers have yet to decide whether to bid.

South Korea’s effort to claw back public funds injected into Woori after the Asian Financial Crisis in late 1990s was hampered late last year due to lack of investor interest.

Woori shares have recently fallen to the lowest level in nearly two years as stock markets sank on fears of weak global growth.

“As stock prices recently tumbled, funding from domestic investors fell short of our expectations,” Min Euoo-sung, chairman of TStone Partners, told Reuters on Tuesday.

TStone, which along with Vogo Fund and MBK Partners filed initial offers for the Woori stake, will decide whether to make a final bid on Wednesday, Mr. Min said.

View the full story in The Globe and Mail.

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