Goldman Sachs is selling its 30.48 percent stake in South Korean cable TV operator C&M, valued at $970 million, a newspaper said on Monday, in the latest sale of Korean assets by foreign investment firms.
The Maeil Business Newspaper cited unnamed investment banking and industry sources as saying that Citigroup, which is handling the deal, closed the auction on Thursday. Goldman declined to comment on the report.
With the planned stake sale, the U.S. investment bank is likely to earn more than $800 million in capital gains, the newspaper estimated.
Goldman bought shares in unlisted C&M in 2004 for 140 billion won ($150.9 million), becoming its second-largest shareholder.
The daily said the total acquisition value could rise to 3 trillion won if the sale includes management rights from the family owners of the country's No. 2 cable TV operator.
The newspaper also said three investment groups have handed in bids: South Korean investment fund MBK Partners, a private equity arm run by Australia's Macquarie Bank and South Korea's No. 2 lender Shinhan Financial Group.
Shinhan denied the report, saying it was not in the running for the cable operator. A Macquarie spokesman was unable to confirm it immediately, while MBK could not be reached for comment.
The deal, if confirmed, comes after U.S. private equity house Lone Star sold a 13.6 percent stake in Korea Exchange Bank (KEB) and auctioned off two other South Korean units last week for a combined $2.3 billion last week.
C&M is the second-largest multi-system cable TV operator in South Korea with 2 million subscribers and the largest in the greater Seoul metropolitan area.
Goldman had sought to exit from its investment in C&M via a dual Seoul-London listing that was expected to fetch up to $500 million this year, sources had told Reuters last November.
But if the stake sale takes place, the listing plan would be delayed or shelved because of a local securities regulation that stipulates IPO candidates should not change majority shareholders one year before the listing.
Goldman has been reaping handsome earnings from South Korean investments.
It more than doubled its $500 million investment in 1999 in South Korea's top lender, Kookmin Bank, and made hefty gains from selling spirits maker Jinro Ltd. to South Korea's top brewer, Hite Brewery, for $3.4 billion in 2005.
Goldman also sold its controlling stake in builder Dong Ah Construction Industrial Co. Ltd. in 2006.
The Wall Street bank is likely to offload its 24 percent stake in Korea Express Co. Ltd., the country's biggest logistics firm, together with an additional stake from other creditors sometime this year.
Private equity deals in South Korea have been increasing despite a legal battle over Lone Star's 2003 acquisition of KEB with prosecutors.
Private equity investment reached $579.6 million in South Korea from 231 transactions in 2006, up 29 percent from $448.7 million in 2005, according to Thomson Financial.