South Korea’s savings and loans institution Apro Service Group won the exclusive rights to negotiate terms to buy eBest Investment & Securities Co., a mid-sized security firm put up for sale by LS Networks Corp. to ease its liquidity stress.
According to investment bank industry sources on Friday, LS Networks, the largest shareholder of eBest and its sales advisor Citi Global Markets Korea Securities picked Apro Service Group as a preferred bidder to acquire eBest.
Three or four bidders including Apro Service Group, fledgling private equity fund (PEF) operator Whale Investment and Cape Investment & Securities (formerly LIG Investment & Securities) submitted bids for eBest during the main auction held on April 10. But Apro Service Group reportedly was named as a preferred bidder after offering 400 billion won ($349 million), outbidding others that offered around 300 billion won. The purchase is expected to be completed by the end of next month.
LS Networks under liquidity stress had placed eBest up for sale to improve its financial health. It posted an operating loss of 58.2 billion won in 2016 and 72.7 billion won in 2015. The securities firm eBest registered an operating profit of 24.2 billion won last year but it was about a half of what it had posted for a year ago period.
By Kang Doo-soon and Chun Gyung-woon
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