U.S. Prudential Financial hires Goldman for South Korean unit sale: report

SEOUL (Reuters) - Prudential Financial Inc PRU.N, the No. 1 U.S. life insurer, has hired Goldman Sachs GS.N to explore the possibility of selling its South Korean unit, which could fetch about 2 trillion won ($1.70 billion), Korea Economic Daily reported.

A sale of the unit would see the U.S. insurer exit the South Korean market after about 30 years since it first entered.

South Korea's large financial firms like KB Financial Group 105560.KS and Woori Financial Group 316140.KS, as well as private equity funds are named as potential buyers of the insurer, the report said.

KB and Woori officials denied that any acquisition talks were underway.

A spokesman at Prudential Life Insurance Company of Korea said: “We do not comment on potential transactions.”

A Goldman Sachs spokesman based in Seoul declined to comment.

The Prudential unit reported a fall in operating profit of 12% to 220 billion won last year, compared to a year earlier, according to its stock exchange filing.

Reporting by Hayoung Choi and Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Edmund Blair