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Kyobo Life Insurance vows push for IPO despite court ruling

All News 11:38 February 11, 2022

SEOUL, Feb. 11 (Yonhap) -- Kyobo Life Insurance, one of South Korea's leading life insurers, said Friday it will press ahead with an initial public offering (IPO), despite a court ruling that could get in the way of its move.

A day earlier, a Seoul court acquitted officials of Affinity Equity Partners and accountants with Deloitte Anjin on the charge of colluding to inflate the strike price of the fund's put option.

The Hong Kong-based private equity fund said it will seek a second arbitration to resolve the legal dispute with Kyobo LIfe Insurance within this month, claiming the court ruling proves that there was no problem with its value assessment.

In October 2018, Affinity Equity Partners exercised the put option at a strike price of 409,000 won (US$341) per share after Kyobo Life Insurance failed to deliver on its promise to conduct an IPO by September 2015.

Deloitte Anjin was in charge of determining the fair market value of the put option. Affinity Equity Partners, a financial investor, helped Kyobo Life Insurance acquire a 24 percent stake in the insurer from now-defunct Daewoo International in 2012.

Kyobo Life Insurance vows push for IPO despite court ruling - 1

Kyobo Life refused to buy those shares, claiming the price was too high, and lodged a complaint with the International Council for Commercial Arbitration. In September, the ICC rejected Affinity Equity Partners' request.

Kyobo also filed a criminal charge against Affinity Equity Partners and Deloitte Anjin. Early last year, Seoul prosecutors indicted the three officials of the accounting firm and two others of Affinity Equity on charges of colluding to inflate the prices.

Expressing its hope that prosecutors will appeal the not guilty verdict, Kyobo Life Insurance pledged to dial up its efforts to carry out an IPO and convert itself into a financial holding company.

In December, Kyobo Life Insurance applied for preliminary approval by the Korea Exchange (KRX), the country's main bourse operator, for its IPO plan and picked NH Investment and Securities Co. as the lead manager for stock listing.

The insurer is aiming to complete an IPO within the first half of this year to diversify its funding sources in preparation for the introduction of a new accounting rule for insurance products in 2023.

But the ongoing legal battle over the put option is widely seen as emerging as a stumbling block to Kyobo Life Insurance's push for an IPO.

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