Report: Carlyle, MBK, Affinity line up for Korea Life stake

The three buyout firms are reportedly seeking to acquire a 10 percent stake in the Korean life insurance company that could value the enterprise at more than $7.5bn.

Hanwha Group, one of Korea’s largest conglomerates, is selling a 9.9 percent stake in Korea Life insurance, which has reportedly attracted interest from The Carlyle Group, Affinity Equity Partners and MBK Partners.

The three firms are among “several private equity firms interested in the stake”, Reuters cited unnamed sources as saying. The group is looking to sell the 9.9 percent stake for a consideration of between $500 million (€349 million) and $750 million in a deal that could value the life insurance company at about $7.5 billion.

Hanwha wants to list Korea Life and the sale of a minority stake will give the insurance company a pre-IPO valuation, the report noted. It added that if the sale goes through, it will also provide Hanwha with capital that can be used in its bid to acquire an interest in Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering.

The Daewoo Shipbuilding deal is expected to be worth up to $8 billion, and Hanwha is competing against other local heavyweights such as POSCO, one of the world’s largest steelmakers; Hyundai Heavy Industries, the world’s largest shipbuilder; and GS Holdings, a Korean conglomerate focused on energy and construction and spin-off from the LG Group.

Carlyle enjoys an extensive presence in Asia and makes growth capital, real estate and buyout investments in the region. It has invested in seven private equity and two real estate deals in Korea to date.

Affinity Equity Partners has been an active investor in Korea and has made seven investments there in the last nine years. The firm is currently investing from Affinity Asia Pacific Fund III, a $2.8 billion vehicle that makes buyout investments in the region.

Established in 2005, MBK Partners is a Seoul-based firm focused on acquisitions in Korea, Japan and Greater China. It manages assets of about $2.5 billion and has made three investments in Korea to date.