Negotiations between SK Lubricants and potential buyers of a minority stake in the company are making progress, with final offers expected to be made next week.

The South Korean lubricant maker shortlisted four bidders in December, including IMM Private Equity, Korea Investment Partners and Apollo Global Management. They have since been conducting due diligence and have held private negotiations with the company.

The bidding process has been delayed by two weeks, but shortlisted bidders remain very interested. Talks with each potential buyer are gaining momentum, and a preferred buyer could be named soon after binding offers are submitted next week, industry sources said.

Strong results from the company’s lubricant business are one of the factors that attracted investors. The profit margin of the business significantly improved last year thanks to low oil prices and high demand for lubricants from the automotive and industrial sectors.

With its dominance in the global lubricants market, the company is also expected to gain long-term benefits from the shift to electric vehicles. It has been supplying lubricants for electric vehicles to its automotive clients since 2017.

The global market for lubricants for electric vehicles is expected to grow at an annual rate of 24% by 2030. (Reporting by Hee-yeon Han)