Interpark has put its wholesale book distribution unit Interpark Song-in Books up for sale again after failing to find a buyer in the first half of this year.

The owner is reportedly in talks with a strategic investor to sell Interpark Song-in Books through a stalking horse bid process, which will be led by accounting firm Nexia Samduk. Interpark Song-in Books’ liquidation value is 3.4 billion won ($3.06 million), with Seoul Bankruptcy Court approving the company’s steps for the rehabilitation procedure in June.

Interpark tapped potential buyers to sell its 74% stake in Interpark Song-in Books in May, but ended the process after just one month when it failed to attract interest from investors.

“The company’s business seemed to normalize since the acquisition by Interpark, but it has continued to make losses as it repays debts,” said an industry source.

Established in 1959 as Song-in Books, the company has become the second largest wholesale book distributor in the country, dealing with approximately 2000 publishing firms. It went bankrupt in 2017 after failing to pay promissory notes and was purchased by Interpark in December that year while undergoing a rehabilitation process.

The firm, which has offline bookstores as its main clients, was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. “Online bookstores directly buy books through publishing companies – without using wholesalers – while Song-in is distributing books mainly to offline bookstores, which has made the company more vulnerable to the pandemic,” said an industry source.

Interpark plans to complete the sale, and aims to end the court receivership in early 2021. Interpark Song-in Books recorded revenue of 40.3 billion won in 2019, with net operating losses. (Reporting by Sun-young Kim)