SEOUL: Dutch bank ING has attracted two more bidders for its South Korean insurance business, said a source with direct knowledge of the matter, taking the total number to three and raising the chances of a successful deal after an earlier sale fell through.
Tong Yang Life Insurance Co and private equity firm MBK Partners made separate bids for a controlling stake in ING’s South Korean insurance unit, the source said late on Friday.
They will compete with another bid made on Friday by South Korea’s third-largest insurer Kyobo Life Insurance Co, and collectively breathe new life into a delayed deal previously valued at roughly $2 billion.
The deal is set to get more crowded with the country’s second-largest insurer Hanwha Life Insurance Co expected to submit its own bid according to a second source with direct knowledge of the matter.
The sources declined to be identified as the bidding process was private.
The sale is set to be one of the largest M&A deals in Asia’s fourth-largest economy this year, although the final value depends on the size of the stake that ING sells.
ING is only required to sell more than 50 per cent in the unit by 2013 and divest the remaining interest by the end of 2016, but it wants to sell as much as possible, sources said.
The sale of a stake in its Korea insurance unit will bring ING Groep closer to fulfilling its agreement with European regulators to sell more than 50 per cent of its Asian operations by the end of 2013.
KB Financial Group had been lined up to buy the unit for roughly $2.1 billion last year, but dropped its bid in December after months of negotiations.