Private equity firm Lone Star confirmed that it was in exclusive talks to sell HSBC its 51.02% stake in Korea Exchange Bank (KEB).
The deal makes sense from both sides. Lone Star rubbed a lot of important people in South Korea's government the wrong way, which ultimately ended up scuttling Lone Star's previous deal to sell out to Kookmin Bank
Restrictive regulations make it especially tough for foreigners to break into Korean banking; HSBC already missed a chance to buy Korea First Bank when U.K. bank Standard Chartered beat it to the punch. Global banks like HSBC want exposure to Korea's historically robust economy, as evidenced by Citigroup
The KEB deal could net Lone Star a substantial windfall. Lone Star bought its stake for about $1.2 billion, and current estimates value the pending deal at roughly $4.5 billion. Of course, that all depends on whether the Korean government will play ball. Stay tuned, Fools.
Fool contributor Emil Lee is an analyst and a disciple of value investing. He doesn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned above. Emil appreciates your comments, concerns, and complaints. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy makes friends in any language.