SEOUL, Jul. 21 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea announced a fresh plan Tuesday to sell state-run Woori Bank following four previous failures to put the country’s third-largest lender into private hands, a state committee said.
The government has been trying to sell its 51.04 percent stake in the bank since 2010 in a bid to recover public funds of some 13 trillion won (US$11.3 billion) injected to bail it out following the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s.
The latest sale plan is its fifth bid as four previous auctions fell through due to a lack of bidders, including the latest attempt where only one company had submitted a bid in November last year.
The Public Fund Oversight Committee, a government-run body in charge of privatizing Woori Bank, said it will take a two-track approach to sell the stake held by the state-run Korea Deposit Insurance Corp.
Up to 40 percent stake will be sold to a single buyer or multiple investors, while the rest will be up to smaller investors.
The government will also seek to divide the stake into smaller pieces and sell them to multiple investors to prevent a single shareholder from controlling the bank, it said.
Woori Bank with 300 trillion won in assets was established in 2001 with the merger of five troubled banks in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis that put South Korea on the brink of default.