Jabez Partners Named Preferred Bidder for Daewoo Engineering

SEOUL (Reuters) – A consortium including a Middle East-based fund and a South Korean investment firm has been picked as a preferred buyer for a controlling stake in Daewoo Engineering (047040.KS), a report said, in a deal expected to fetch about $2.6 billion.

The auction for South Korea’s No. 4 builder by market value has attracted three unidentified bidders, according to Daewoo’s parent Kumho Asiana Group.

Online news MoneyToday reported on Friday, without citing a source, that a South Korean private equity firm Jabez Partners Co Ltd, in which an Abu Dhabi investment vehicle participated, was the exclusive negotiator.

A spokesperson for Kumho Asiana Group declined to comment on the report. Officials at Jabez Partners could not be immediately reached for comment.

Analysts doubted if the reported buyer was keen to turn around Daewoo Engineering & Construction Co Ltd, which has built its reputation in domestic home-building and plant construction in the Middle East and Africa.

If the consortium includes the Abu Dhabi-based fund, Daewoo should benefit from new orders in coming years from the Middle East, which does not have homegrown engineering companies capable of carrying out plant construction on their own, they said.

Korea Development Bank and Nomura (8604.T), which are handling the sale, are planning to announce a preferred buyer next week to complete the sale by this month.

KDB and Nomura were not immediately available for comment. (Reporting by Kim Yeon-hee, Rhee So-eui and Shin Jieun; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)