FILE PHOTO: An Asiana Airlines Airbus A350-900 is seen at the Airbus delivery center in Colomiers near Toulouse, France, March 20, 2019. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau
SEOUL (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%.
Reporting by Hyunjoo Jin; Editing by Rashmi Aich