Commodities

S.Korean activist fund KCGI eyes stake in Asiana Airlines

Credit: REUTERS/LOUIS NASTRO

South Korea's activist fund KCGI, the second-largest shareholder in the parent company of Korean Air Lines Co Ltd, is interested in buying rival carrier Asiana Airlines Inc, KCGI Chief Executive Kang Sung-boo told Reuters.

Add KCGI CEO comments, background about the deal

SEOUL, Aug 19 (Reuters) - South Korea's activist fund KCGI, the second-largest shareholder in the parent company of Korean Air Lines Co Ltd 003490.KS, is interested in buying rival carrier Asiana Airlines Inc 020560.KS, KCGI Chief Executive Kang Sung-boo told Reuters.

KCGI is in talks with several local and overseas entities to form a consortium to join the bidding for Asiana Airlines, which is expected to receive initial bids on Sept.3, Kang said on Monday, without elaborating further.

Kumho Industrial 002990.KS, the top shareholder of Asiana Airlines, said in April it would sell its entire 31.05% stake in the debt-ridden carrier to keep it afloat. The stake is worth 341 billion won ($282.03 million) as of Friday's closing price.

Korean's chip-to-refinery conglomerate SK Group and retail-focused Aekyung Group, which also has a stake in budget carrier Jeju Air 089590.KS, were named as potential suitors by local media, but the two firms did not publicly said whether they were interested in the bidding or not.

"I believe the entire airline industry in Korea is in crisis. The industry needs to undergo a change," Kang told Reuters over the phone.

Shares of Asiana Airlines, South Korea's second-largest carrier after Korean Air Lines, were trading up 1.8% in early trade, while affiliate Asiana IDT 267850.KS rose 3.5% in the wider market .KS11 that was up 0.6%.

($1 = 1,209.1000 won)

(Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Rashmi Aich)

((hyunjoo.jin@thomsonreuters.com; 82-2-3704-5685; Reuters Messaging: hyunjoo.jin.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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