SEOUL (Reuters) - Samsung Group confirmed that it had named a group led by online shopping mall operator Interpark as preferred bidder for its procurement arm iMarketKorea Inc, in a deal to buy Samsung's up to $342 million stake in the firm.
Sources told Reuters earlier that Interpark won the deal for iMarketKorea, beating private equity firms Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and MBK Partners.
The country's biggest business group launched a rare divestment in August against the backdrop of the President Lee Myung-bak administration and politicians warning Korean conglomerates' maintenance, repair and operation (MRO) businesses could hurt small and medium-size enterprises.
There however is no official directive to sell these units, and other conglomerates like LG and SK have given no indication of plans to dispose of their procurement arms.
"Samsung and the Interpark-led consortium are expected to complete the sale of iMarketKorea by the end of the year after signing an agreement in early November," Samsung Group said in a statement, adding that the two parties are negotiating detailed terms of the deal.
Samsung plans to sell a 58.7 percent stake in iMarketKorea worth 392 billion won ($342 million) at Monday's closing price, held by its nine affiliates.
The size of the stake could be smaller, as Samsung earlier said it might maintain an interest in Imarketkorea if buyers requested it. That interest could be up to 10 percent, one of the sources said.
Interpark teamed up with Korea Venture Business Association and private equity firm H&Q in a deal where Samsung is providing five-year guarantees to ensure 2 trillion won of revenue annually through iMarketKorea, a source told Reuters earlier.
Samsung set up Imarketkorea in 2000 to provide goods and maintenance services for business clients.
Shares in iMarketKorea finished down 2.9 percent versus the broader market's 3.3 percent rise. Interpark closed down 2 percent. ($1 = 1147.350 Korean Won)
(Reporting by Ju-min Park; Additional Reporting by Stephen Aldred; Editing by Jonathan Hopfner)