* Stake to be sold in tranches of 4-8 pct each - regulator
* 30 pct of Woori worth about $1.84 bln by market value
* Interest from domestic and overseas investors - regulator
* Four previous attempts to sell controlling stake failed
By Joyce Lee
SEOUL, Aug 22 (Reuters) - South Korea will attempt to sell a 30 percent stake in Woori Bank by the end of this year in a move that could recoup nearly $2 billion of taxpayer money spent bailing out the bank nearly two decades ago, having tried and failed to sell a majority stake four times since 2010.
In a statement on Monday, country’s financial regulator, the Financial Services Commission (FSC), said it plans to 30 percent of Woori Bank - owned by state-run Korea Deposit Insurance Corp - to multiple suitors, both Korean and international. The FSC said it wants to auction off a series of stakes in Woori ranging in size from 4 to 8 percent.
“There is interest from diverse investors both local and overseas,” the FSC said in its statement, without identifying potential bidders. The government, which owns 51 percent of Woori, failed to attract sufficient bidder interest in its previous attempts to sell the whole stake.
The regulator said the government aims to receive letters of intent from bidders by around Sept. 23, decide on winning parties in November, and close the sale by December.
A 30 percent slice of Woori, the country’s fourth-largest bank by assets, would be worth about 2.07 trillion won ($1.84 billion), according to its latest market value.
In June, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters that China’s Anbang Insurance Group had expressed interest in buying a stake in Woori.
The government is seeking to recoup some of the 12.8 trillion won it spent to bail out Woori and its former affiliates in the aftermath of the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis. It has recouped 8.3 trillion won thus far through measures such as block sales and dividends.
Shares in Woori Bank fell 1.5 percent, compared to a 0.7 percent drop in the wider market as of 0427 GMT, before the stake sale plan was made public.
$1 = 1,126.8000 won Reporting by Joyce Lee; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell