* Chinese insurer Anbang sole bidder for controlling stake
* At least two bidders needed to proceed under local rules
* S.Korea’s Kyobo Life bowed out after flagging interest
* Sale intended to help govt recoup Woori bailout funds (Adds sale history, minority stakes auction details)
By Joyce Lee
SEOUL, Nov 28 (Reuters) - South Korea’s fourth attempt to sell a controlling stake in Woori Bank valued at $2.7 billion collapsed after a combination of stringent regulations and weak business prospects turned off an already small pool of potential investors.
An official at state-run Korea Deposit Insurance Corp, Woori’s major shareholder, said the government had received only one bid, from China’s Anbang Insurance Group Co Ltd, for the 30 percent stake in the country’s second-biggest bank by assets.
Under South Korean rules, at least two bidders were needed for the sale to proceed. The bidding period in a two-month auction closed on Friday. Analysts had valued the stake on sale at about 3 trillion won ($2.71 billion).
Kyobo Life Insurance Co Ltd, the only South Korean company that had previously publicly expressed interest in the controlling stake, said on Friday it had not submitted a bid.
The government has repeatedly tried to sell Woori Bank in a bid to recoup some of the more than $12 billion bailout it gave to the bank and its affiliates more than a decade ago. It has so far recovered 8.6 trillion won through several means, including asset sales, dividends and block deals.
During this latest auction, the government tried to stimulate investors’ interest by offering to sell smaller stakes in Woori Bank addition to the 30 percent controlling stake.
In its statement, Korea Deposit Insurance Corp said it had received separate bids for stakes totalling 23.8 percent. These included a joint bid by Singapore sovereign wealth fund GIC and private equity firm Affinity Equity Partners, a bid by a group of Woori Bank employees and another bid by Hanwha Life Insurance, two people with direct knowledge of the matter and a Hanwha Life spokesman said.
The sources declined to be identified as they are not authorised to speak to media.
Korea Deposit Insurance Co has previously said it would only sell these minority stakes if the bidding price exceeded a certain, undisclosed amount.
$1 = 1,099.3700 Korean won Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and Miral Fahmy