Blackstone In Talks For Woori Finance Stake

(Reuters) – South Korea‘s Woori Finance Holdings (053000.KS) was in discussions with U.S. private equity house Blackstone Group (BX.N) over the acquisition of a stake in the state-owned Korean bank, reports said on Thursday.

The government, which holds a 57 percent stake in Woori worth around $6 billion, plans to announce a detailed sales plan for the country’s No.3 banking group in coming weeks. Industry officials do not expect it to be sold as a single block.

Woori Chief Executive Lee Pal-seung had met Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman on Tuesday in New York and had asked the U.S. firm to participate in the auction, the Korea Economic Daily and MoneyToday said, both in unsourced reports.

A Woori spokesman said the group could not confirm whether privatisation was discussed, and said Lee had met Schwarzman as a business partner because a Woori unit has invested $60 million in a private equity fund run by Blackstone. (Reporting by Miyoung Kim; Editing by Chris Lewis)