Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the largest private equity company in the world, is believed to be eyeing up a stake in South Korea's largest insurer in order to establish a presence in the Asian market.
According to reports from South Korea, Kohlberg has tabled an offer valued at around $794 million for a 17.5% stake in creditor-controlled Samsung Life. Seoul Guarantee Insurance Co, one of the life insurer’s owners, said that the US firm submitted a letter of intent at the end of April for the stake, which would make it the second biggest shareholder in the Asian life insurance company.
Subsequently, if Kohlberg, which has a funds kitty of $25 billion, was successful in acquiring the quoted share, it would also become the largest shareholder in Samsung Electronics Co, the number two chip maker globally.
Kohlberg’s offer is likely to generate a conflict of interest in Samsung Life and its creditors, as they are keen to sell off the company on the one hand, but it is reluctant to do so to foreign or private companies on the other. However, the creditor must find a buyer for their stake before they lose control at the end of the year.