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KAL may sell its business units privately Private equity firms at home and abroad show interest in KAL's business units

Translated by Kim So-in 공개 2020-05-25 08:00:18

이 기사는 2020년 05월 25일 08:00 더벨 유료페이지에 표출된 기사입니다.

Korean Air Lines (KAL) is likely to sell its business units through a limited competition bidding or a private sale rather than a public auction.

KAL, South Korea’s largest airline and a flagship unit of Hanjin Group, is in the process of estimating the value of its business units – including in-flight meal services, mileage services and maintenance, repair and operations (MRO) services – sources familiar with the situation said on May 20. The company is expected to sell its business units through a limited competition bidding or a private sale as soon as the valuation assessment is finished.

Hanjin Group is discussing possible sale of its business units with investment banks at home and abroad while consulting with Korea Development Bank (KDB) and The Export-Import Bank of Korea on which business units to be sold by the air carrier. The in-flight meal service operation, among other business units, will likely be the first to be put up for sale by KAL.

KAL’s mileage services and MRO services units may also be put up for sale, which were widely expected to be excluded from the sale process. The mileage services unit’s valuation was estimated at between 500 billion won ($437 million) and one trillion won few years ago. Investment banks have proposed the company to explore an option of an initial public offering of the unit. The MRO services’ valuation is also estimated at hundreds of billions of won.

A South Korean private equity firm has reportedly shown an interest in the in-flight meal services, expecting to create synergies by combining the in-flight meal services and food and beverage (F&B) business. The mileage services unit is attracting global private equity firms which have acquired related businesses abroad while the MRO services unit is drawing attention from domestic conglomerates.

If these business units are sold in the form of a limited competition or a private deal, KAL will be able to keep any information on the deal confidential and complete the deal at a rapid pace. With prospective buyers already shown their interests in the units, KAL is no longer required to seek additional prospective buyers through a public auction.

The management, including Hanjin Group Chairman Cho Won-tae, is reportedly emphasizing to carry out the sale process as quietly as possible. This is because creditors’ pressure on the company to sell its non-core assets is undesirable and the management is concerned about a possible negative impact the sale process may have on the company.

The sale process of KAL’s business units are expected to be led by Credit Suisse (CS). KDB is already proceeding with the process with CS. The air carrier is likely to prepare the sale process in earnest as soon as it internally makes a decision on which business units to be sold.

(Reporting by Ik-hwan Choi)
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