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Multiple firms show interest in Woori Bank stake as South Korea seeks sale again

Multiple institutions, both domestic and foreign, have"strongly" expressed interest in bidding for a stake in South Korea's , boding well for thecountry's fifth attempt to privatize the company, according to a member of thegovernment committee tasked with selling the lender.

Based on the promising indications from potential buyersapproached by the Public Fund Oversight Committee, the South Korean government aimsto start a process to sell its 51.06% stake in Woori Bank by the end of thethird quarter, You Jong-il, a member of the panel, told S&P Global MarketIntelligence.

You declined to identify possible bidders but denied a June22 Reuters reportthat said Anbang Insurance GroupCo. has shown interest.

The Chinese firm has been active in acquisitions overseas, including inSouth Korea, where it has bought a life insurer and is regulatory approval to takeover a unit of AllianzGroup. Anbang also sought to acquire a 30% stake in Woori Bank in themost recent government auction in 2014, which through because there was notenough competition.

For South Korea, Anbang's setback marked its fourth failedattempt to privatize Woori Bank and recoup public funds spent to bail out thecompany following the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

Specific Woori Bank sale plans are still under discussion,and it is not true that the government will keep a 20% stake as by Yonhap News Agencyon July 11, You said.

The government has said it will try to sell its holding tomultiple institutional investors, if it cannot find a single buyer of theentire asset. The market value of the state stake was about US$3 billion as theclose of July 11 trading.