A South Korean insurer controlled by China's Anbang Insurance Group and six other candidates have submitted final bids to acquire a stake in Woori Bank, a state-controlled lender bailed out with taxpayer's money during a financial crisis decades ago.
For the first round of bidding, 16 buyers including Tongyang Life Insurance acquired by Anbang last year presented letters of intent, but seven of them submitted final bids, according to the Financial Services Commission.
Woori was bailed out with 12.8 trillion won (10.99 billion US dollars) in state money during the 1998-99 Asian financial crisis that forced a sweeping consolidation of financial institutions. As a result, the government held a 51-percent stake in the bank through the state-run Korea Deposit Insurance Corp. (KDIC).
KDIC plans to sell a 30 percent stake worth about 2.07 trillion won in Woori to multiple domestic and international suitors. An investor will be allowed to acquire 4-8 percent.
South Korea's insurance market has been engulfed in a series of mergers and acquisitions. Anbang has actively purchased overseas assets under an aggressive expansionist campaign by its chairman Wu Xiaohui, married to a granddaughter of Deng Xiaoping.
With Anbang's foray into South Korea, other Chinese investors have come to buy domestic financial units.
Aju News Lim Chang-won = firstname.lastname@example.org