The heavy debt load of Kumho Resort, the leisure arm of cash-strapped South Korean conglomerate Kumho Asiana Group, may give potential buyers more bargaining power as they try to reduce the steep price tag put on the sale.
Kumho Resort wants about 200 billion won ($179.2 million) for a 100% stake in the company, industry sources said. It is also said to be pushing for a new owner to take on the outstanding debt of about 390 billion won, which would push the price tag up to nearly 600 billion won.
Some potential buyers that had earlier shown strong interest in the company have reportedly decided to pull out because of the excessive valuation. This narrows the pool of potential buyers to a handful of companies, including Kumho Petrochemical.
“Several potential buyers who were initially interested in Kumho Resort have decided not to join the bidding because they thought the price tag was too high,” an industry insider said. “This means companies that have ties with Kumho Asiana Group or its former chairman Park Sam-koo will likely remain in the race, and they will keep trying to reduce the price tag.”
The planned sale of Kumho Resort has many things in common with the sale of Sungwoo Resort, a leisure company that was offloaded by Hyndai Cement in 2011. It also operated a golf course and ski resort, and the sale was to solve cashflow problems of its parent company that resulted from a slowdown in the construction industry.
Sungwoo Resort, now renamed Welli Hilli Park, sold its assets as a whole rather than breaking them up, because of complicated issues involving its existing membership system. Kumho Resort intends to do likewise for the same reason.
Hyundai Cement initially put the equity value of Sungwoo Resort at 200 billion won, but it was eventually sold to Shinan for 118.4 billion won due to a high level of debt.
“Large conglomerates such as Hanwha and Woongjin had showed interest in Sungwoo Resort at the beginning, but they all withdrew due to the company’s heavy debt load,” said another industry insider. “This was a reason Sungwoo Resort drew little attention from private equity firms and that’s also the case for Kumho Resort.” (Reporting by Ik-hwan Choi)