* Tong Yang has market capitalisation of about $1.1 bln
* Tong Yang is backed by private equity fund Vogo Capital
SEOUL/HONG KONG, March 6 The sale of ING Groep's
South Korean unit is set to be revived after private
equity-backed Tong Yang Life Insurance Co Ltd said
it was considering whether to buy the business, which is valued
at about $2.1 billion.
Last year, Dutch financial services firm ING failed to
strike a deal with KB Financial Group Inc to sell
the unit after negotiating for nearly 10 months, during which KB
pushed down the price to about $2.1 billion.
ING, which received a 10 billion euros ($13 billion) bailout
in 2008, sold its Malaysian, Thailand and Hong Kong units last
year for $3.9 billion. The sales were part of a wider asset
divestment programme to repay the state bailout. But ING has yet
to find buyers for two of its biggest Asian units - South Korea
In a regulatory filing on Wednesday, Vogo Capital-owned Tong
Yang said it was reviewing whether to buy ING's South Korean
insurance unit. Tong Yang did not say how it plans to fund the
acquisition if it decides to proceed with a bid, which would be
almost double the size of Tong Yang's market value of $1.1
Tong Yang shares were down 0.9 percent, while the benchmark
South Korean index was up 0.3 percent.
In a report late last month, Moody's Investors Service
predicted that life insurance premiums in South Korea would grow
between 6 percent and 6.5 percent in the next 12 to 18 months.
Last year, Tong Yang itself was in the midst of a takeover
process, after South Korea's Vogo Fund put an up to 60.7 percent
stake on the block. That process attracted interest from Korea
Life Insurance Co Ltd and Prudential Financial Inc
but the deal fell apart after the parties failed to
reach an agreement over the price, sources said.
When ING launched the Asian insurance sale in March last
year, the South Korea operations had attracted interest from
Metlife Inc, Prudential Financial and AIA Group Ltd
, although that preliminary interest failed to
translate into firm bids.
ING officials had previously told South Korean regulators
that the company would inform regulators of their future plans
for the unit within the first quarter of 2013, a source has