KB Financial to study possible takeover of Woori

SEOUL, June 25 (Yonhap) -- KB Financial Group Inc. plans to study whether to seek to buy South Korea's top banking group Woori Finance Holdings Co. as part of efforts to boost the group's competitiveness, its head nominee said Tuesday.

The Financial Services Commission (FSC), the financial regulator, plans to unveil detailed plans to privatize the state-invested Woori Finance on Wednesday, including a possible separate sale of the group's smaller bank units.

Lim Young-rok, the chairman nominee of the KB Financial Group, said it is too early to say whether the group will seek to buy Woori Finance as the privatization plans have yet to come out.

Lim told reporters that the group plans to look into such possibility by gauging whether the potential takeover could enhance the group's competitiveness.

The government is driving its motion to resume the sale of Woori Finance after the move fell through in 2010 and 2011 due to a lack of proper buyers.

No. 2 banking group KB Financial Group previously had an interest in merging with Woori Finance but decided to pull out of its bid in July 2012 apparently due to political pressure.

FSC Chairman Shin Je-yoon earlier said 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.

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