MBK mulls bidding for 51% of KEB stake

Lone Star's sale could be delayed due to its inability to attract bidders behind global uncertainties.

Private equity firm MBK Partners plans to submit a bid for Lone Star Funds' 51% stake in Korea Exchange Bank, a person familiar with the situation said Thursday.

The person said Lone Star has set a deadline of end-July for binding bids and that there have been no specific discussions on a price for the stake that is currently valued at $3.4 billion (KRW4.09 trillion). The person added that MBK is also prepared to form a consortium to pull off the deal if needed, but didn't name specific firms that MBK may enlist for the bid.

Lone Star, a U.S.-based private equity fund, has had a number of setbacks in trying to exit its $1.3 billion investment in KEB, which it bought in 2003. Lone Star launched the sale process for a third time in March after having failed twice previously.

Analysts have said Lone Star's sale efforts could be delayed due to its inability to drum up enough interested bidders because of uncertainties such as Europe's fiscal woes as well as the South Korean government's efforts to divest its 57% stake in Woori Finance Holdings Co., the country's second largest financial holding company by assets.

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