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KKR, MBK Eye Samsung Group Asset

(Reuters) – Global private equity fund Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co LP and Asian buyout fund MBK Partners are among bidders for a majority stake in Samsung Group’s procurement arm iMarketKorea Inc, two sources told Reuters on Tuesday.

Samsung Group said in August that it planned to sell a combined 58.7 percent stake in the non-core business, held by nine of its affiliates, in a rare divestment by the South Korean conglomerate. The bids went in on Friday.

Goldman Sachs Group Inc has been hired to advise on the sale of the stake, which is valued at 372 billion won ($326 million) based on Tuesday’s closing share price of 17,650 won.

An official for South Korean shopping mall operator Interpark Corp also confirmed it is heading a consortium which placed a bid.

The Interpark group contains private equity fund H&Q, the sources said.

An external spokeswoman for KKR could not offer an immediate comment, while MBK could not immediately be reached for comment. Goldman Sachs declined to comment.

The sources declined to be identified as the discussions were private.

The size of the stake could be smaller, as Samsung earlier said it might maintain an interest in Imarketkorea if buyers request it. That interest could be up to 10 percent, one of the sources said.

Samsung set up Imarketkorea in 2000 to provide goods and maintenance services for business clients.

The conglomerate is providing five-year guarantees to prospective buyers, to ensure two trillion won of revenue annually through Imarketkorea, one of the sources said.

($1 = 1140.450 won)
(Reporting by Stephen Aldred and Ju-min Park; Editing by Denny Thomas and Erica Billingham)