Government of Singapore Investment Corp (GIC) and Canada's Ontario Teachers Pension Plan are among final bidders to buy stakes in South Korea's unlisted Kyobo Life Insurance, sources said, in deals worth up to $1.4 billion.
Daewoo International Corp (047050.KS) and state-run Korea Asset Management Corp (KAMCO) are offering about a one-third stake in the life insurance company in two separate sales. The final bids for the stakes were made on Tuesday, the sources, who had direct knowledge of the matter, told Reuters.
Local media reported on Wednesday that Carlyle Group CYL.UL made a competing bid for the larger Daewoo stake.
GIC has teamed up with Affinity Equity Partners to buy the 24 percent stake in Kyobo held by Daewoo, one of the sources said, while Carlyle has bid with the United Arab Emirates sovereign wealth fund, the Korea Economic Daily reported.
Affinity and Ontario Teachers Pension Plan also submitted separate bids for KAMCO's 9.93 percent stake, a second source said. KAMCO was established to oversee non-performing assets in the Korean financial sector.
Bids reached as high as 250,000 Korean won per share, driving the value of Daewoo and KAMCO's stakes as high as 1.2 trillion won ($1 billion) and 500 billion won ($425 million), respectively, the Korean publication said.
The combined stake was valued at $1.8 billion in late April.
Foreign private equity funds must team up to control stakes larger than 10 percent, as under local laws foreign capital cannot own more than a one-tenth stake of a South Korean insurer without the regulator's approval.
The sources were not authorized to talk to the media. Carlyle, Affinity, Daewoo, KAMCO and GIC declined to comment.
A spokeswoman for KAMCO said the state-run entity plans to select a preferred bidder in June after approval by an oversight committee on public funds. A spokeswoman for Daewoo International said the company has not fixed a date for selecting a preferred bidder, although media reports said the selection could be as early as this week.
(Reporting By Jung Yoon Lee in SEOUL, Stephen Aldred in HONG KONG and Saeed Azhar in SINGAPORE; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)