S. Korea’s Doosan Considers Liquor Unit Sale

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s Doosan Corp (000150.KS: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) is considering selling its spirits-making division after receiving “attractive” offers for the business, the group said on Friday, in a deal reportedly worth up to $500 million.

The prospective sale would come after food, beverage and clothing company Doosan sold its packaging unit, Doosan Techpack BG, to private equity fund MBK Partners for 400 billion won ($270.1 million) last month.

“Since we sold a packaging unit on Nov. 13, we have received calls to sell our liquor division from those interested in that business,” the company said in an emailed note.

The Korea Economic Daily reported that MBK Partners and another private equity fund, Asia-focused Affinity Equity Partners, were interested in the division, without citing sources.

Doosan Liquor Business Group, a division of Doosan Corp, produces wines and a popular brand of soju, the traditional Korean spirit.

The newspaper cited an unnamed industry source as saying that the spirits making unit would fetch between 500 billion-700 billion won ($338-$473 million) Doosan spokesman Bae Hyung-sik said the sale of the liquor business would help the company meet the financial conditions for a planned transformation into a holding firm.

He declined to comment on the estimated proceed.

The liquor business, closely competing with unlisted Jinro Ltd, posted a 21.4 billion won operating profit against sales of 341.9 billion won last year, according to the newspaper.

Separately, Belgian brewer InBev NV (INTB.BR: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) is trying to sell South Korea’s No. 2 beer company Oriental Brewery to help finance InBev’s purchase of U.S. brewer Anheuser-Busch Cos Inc, according to sources.

Doosan’s parent group bought Bobcat, the world’s top compact construction equipment firm and other assets from Ingersoll-Rand (IR.N: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) for $4.9 billion in 2007, in the biggest cross-border acquisition by a South Korean company.

($1=1481.0 Won)

(Reporting by Kim Yeon-hee; Editing by Marie-France Han and Keiron Henderso)