Woori Finance Holdings Co. put up a public notice on Friday to sell its brokerage unit and five other affiliates in the second phase of the government's process to privatize South Korea's top banking group.
Woori Finance made it public that Woori Investment & Securities Co. and three other units -- WooriAviva Life Insurance Co., Woori Asset Management Co. and Woori FG Savings Bank Co. -- will be sold in a bundle. Woori Financial Co. and Woori F&I Co. will be put up for sale separately.
The group also added that the three affiliates in the bundle deal can be sold separately in accordance with circumstances.
Woori Finance holds a 37.85 percent stake in Woori Investment & Securities. The deadline to accept a preliminary bid is 5:00 p.m. on Oct. 21.
The move is part of the government's push to sell the state-invested Woori Finance in three different batches -- regional banks, banking and brokerage units -- by the end of 2014. The government has a 56.97 percent stake in Woori Finance.
Industry watchers said that the value of Woori Investment & Securities and five other units is estimated to reach at least 1.5 trillion won (US$1.34 billion). The government said it plans to pick the preferred bidder by the end of this year.
Korea's No. 2 banking group KB Financial Group and its smaller rival NongHyup Financial Group Inc. are widely seen as major bidders to buy Woori Investment & Securities. They have stressed the need to diversify their business portfolios from the banking-oriented structure.
The government's push to sell Woori Finance marks its fourth attempt since 2010. Its sale is aimed at recouping public funds worth 12.8 trillion won injected into the group in the aftermath of the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.
The financial regulator said in June that it will put 14 units of Woori Finance up for sale in the three groups -- its mainstay Woori Bank, two regional banks and other units including a brokerage house. In July the government launched the process to sell Woori Finance's two regional banks as the first package.
Woori Finance was established in 2001 after the merging of four troubled banks -- Hanvit, Peace, Kwangju and Kyongnam -- and one merchant bank following the Asian financial turmoil. Woori Finance is Korea's first financial services