Regulator mulls separate sale of Woori Finance's smaller units

SEOUL, June 12 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is considering first selling two smaller banking units of Woori Finance Holdings Co. when it seeks to privatize the state-invested banking group, the top financial regulator said Wednesday.

The government is poised to unveil a road map to resume the sale of Woori Finance by the end of June following its previous botched attempts to privatize Korea's top banking group.

Shin Je-yoon, chairman of the Financial Services Commission (FSC), told lawmakers that the financial watchdog is considering first selling the group's two smaller banks -- Kwangju and Kyongnam -- and then selling a slimmed-down holding company, along with the main banking unit Woori Bank.

"The government is mulling selling the affiliates by separating them from Woori Finance," Shin said.

The government currently holds a 56.97 percent stake in Woori Finance after it injected 12.8 trillion won (US$11.32 billion) to save the group from near bankruptcy in the aftermath of the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.

The sale of Woori Finance was pushed by the government of former President Lee Myung-bak, but the privatization move fell through in 2010 and 2011 due to a lack of proper buyers.

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