ING Life Korea to go public in May

After failed sale attempt, life insurer opts to instead hold an IPO

ING Life Korea to go public in May

Insurance News

By Gabriel Olano

ING Life Insurance Korea will hold an initial public offering to go public on the main Seoul stock market in May, after gaining the approval of the stock exchange’s operator.
The firm is currently the fifth-largest life insurer in South Korea, and was opened in 1991 by ING Group from the Netherlands. In 2013, the entire Korean unit was sold to MBK Partners LP, one of the country’s top private equity funds.
In a bid to recoup its investment, MBK will offer more than 50% of its existing shares in the IPO, in what could be the first case of a private equity fund trying to make back its investment through going public instead of private placement or sales.

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Since 2015, the Korea Exchange has allowed companies held by private equity funds to go public, but none so far have tried to do so out of concerns about management instability. If everything goes well, MBK and ING could set a precedent, leading similar firms to do the same in the future.
From January to September 2016, ING Life Korea earned KRW3.18 trillion (US$2.77 billion) in operating income and KRW180.8 billion (US$158 million) in net income. The IPO price is estimated to be from KRW25,000 to 30,000.
In late 2016, the company attracted several prominent buyers from China, such as JD Capital, Taiping Insurance Group, and Fosun International. However, a sale did not materialize after geopolitical issues regarding the US’s installation of a missile defence system in South Korea caused a rift between China and its Asian neighbour.

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