Japan-based J Trust Group’s sale of JT Savings Bank Co Ltd has received a lukewarm response from potential buyers.

Law firm Kim & Chang held the final round of bidding for the savings bank and received binding offers from potential buyers on September 15. Strategic investors, including JB Financial Group Co Ltd and Han Kook Capital Co Ltd, chose not to participate in the final round of bidding while two financial investors, including BankerStreet Private Equity, submitted their final offers.

In the preliminary round of bidding, six or seven potential buyers submitted their letters of intent. Shortlisted bidders including JB Financial Group, Han Kook Capital and BankerStreet PE have conducted their due diligence in a virtual data room (VDR) until recently.

Strategic investors’ decision not to join the race due to the weak attractiveness of the acquisition is likely to make the deal a competition among PE firms.

For a PE to become a shareholder of a savings bank in South Korea, it is required to present a management plan for the next 10 years to the country’s financial watchdog.

J Trust Group acquired a 100% stake in JT Savings Bank in January 2015 from Standard Chartered Group. J Trust Group has put the savings bank up for sale to secure liquidity for its parent company.

Among peers, Daehan Savings Bank and Smart Savings Bank, which were sold at a price-to-book value ratio of approximately 1.4 times and 1.2 times respectively, can be used as a reference in estimating the valuation of JT Savings Bank. Based on JT Savings Bank’s total equity as of the end of June, the transaction value is expected to be in a range of 133 billion won ($113 million) and 159.6 billion won. (Reporting by Ar-rum Rho)