The decision by Hyundai Heavy Industries and Korea Development Bank Investment (KDBI) to form a bidding consortium for a minority stake in Doosan Infracore has led to market concerns about potentially unfair competitive advantages.
KDBI is wholly owned by Korea Development Bank (KDB), which is the main creditor of Doosan Group, the owner of Doosan Infracore. Hyundai Heavy Industries denied only a few weeks ago that it would be joining the bidding race.
Doosan Infracore received three non-binding offers for the 36.27 percent stake, which is valued at about 600 billion won ($505 million) based on the company’s market capitalization of 1.65 trillion won. The other bidders in the first round of bidding on September 28 were MBK Partners and Glenwood Private Equity (Glenwood PE), industry sources said.
A sale would be the final piece of the puzzle in Doosan Group’s restructuring efforts as it tries to reduce its debt load, and the involvement of KDBI has added an element of controversy to the process. KDB’s chairman and chief executive Lee Dong-gull tried to draw a line between the bank and its investment unit during an online press conference on September 28.
“KDBI’s decision (to partner with Hyundai Heavy Industries) was made independently, so I won’t comment on that,” he said.
However, there are market suspicions that KDB is supporting Hyundai Heavy Industries’ bid to acquire Doosan Infracore so that Doosan Group can resolve its liquidity issues.
The other two bidders, MBK Partners and Glenwood PE, may feel pressured by this situation, with some industry watchers speculating that the winner of the contest might already have been decided.
“The situation could force the private equity bidders to consider whether to pull out,” one industry insider said.
But others said it was too early to predict the result because no due diligence had yet been conducted on the company. While Hyundai Heavy Industries – whose subsidiary has the second-largest share in the domestic construction equipment market – appears to have a keen interest in buying Doosan Infracore, this might not be the case after the company takes a closer look at the targeted firm, industry watchers said.
MBK Partners, with its blind-pool fund of 8 trillion-won, is also a strong contender. Portfolio companies of the firm, which focuses on North Asia, include Doosan Machine Tools, purchased from Doosan Infracore in 2016.
Glenwood PE has a strong record of growing businesses offloaded by conglomerates, and this could give it an edge in terms of non-price competitiveness, industry watchers said. The company’s recent acquisitions include Hankuk Glass Industries and PI Advanced Materials, which was formerly known as SKC Kolon PI. (Reporting by Hye-ran Kim)