SEOUL, Dec. 9 (Korea Bizwire) – A local private equity fund which wholly owns ING Life has decided to push for the company’s initial public offering, ditching its bid to sell South Korea’s fifth-largest life insurer by assets, partly affected by the standoffs between Seoul and Beijing over the planned deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system, industry sources said Friday.
The listing of ING Life Insurance’s Korean unit may come in the second quarter of next year, they added.
MBK has been searching for the buyer of its 100-percent stake in the insurer, a deal that could fetch around US$ 3 billion.
Potential buyers reportedly include three Chinese companies: Hong Kong-based investment manager JD Capital, Taiping Insurance Group and Fosun International.
But talks on prices have gone slowly after a round of preliminary due diligence. In recent weeks, especially, the Chinese firms have become notably lukewarm amid China’s fierce opposition to South Korea’s decision to allow the U.S. military to deploy the THAAD missile defense battery on its soil, said investment bankers here privy to the issue.
In what was seen as a retaliatory step, Chinese authorities recently conducted unexpected tax audits and fire safety inspections of Lotte Group’s affiliates in China, according to news reports.
The South Korean conglomerate reached a deal with the military to provide a site in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province, for the THAAD unit.
In addition, there is a widespread view that China is seeking to ban South Korean pop stars from appearing in its TV shows or commercials.
MBK plans to submit an application to the Korea Exchange early next year for a preliminary review of its listing plan, said the sources.