SEOUL, Apr 20 (Reuters) HSBC, Standard Chartered and Barclays are among the bidders for South Korea's top credit card firm, LG Card Co. Ltd., a newspaper reported on Thursday, quoting unnamed financial sources.
The three U.K.-based banks, if confirmed to be bidding, would compete with three South Korean firms, including Shinhan Financial Group and Hana Financial Group, which submitted preliminary bids for LG Card by the deadline on Wednesday.
The third local bidder is the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation, a financial institution mostly for farmers.
Online news agency EDaily (www.edaily.co.kr) reported that HSBC, Standard Chartered and Barclays all handed in bids by the deadline, quoting unnamed financial industry sources.
Citigroup, which had been linked to a possible bid after buying a South Korean bank in 2004, had not joined the race, according to the report, with no more details.
Officials at Standard Chartered and Barclays in Seoul said they were unaware of any bids submitted.
David Hall, a HSBC spokesman in Hong Kong, declined to comment, instead repeating previous remarks that if opportunities arose to grow in South Korea, the bank would look at them.
The lead managers of the sale, JPMorgan Chase and state-run Korea Development Bank (KDB), declined to comment on the report.
The LG Card sale is expected to fetch up to about billion, which would make it the second-biggest deal in South Korea after Kookmin Bank agreed in March to pay .6 billion for a majority stake in smaller rival Korea Exchange Bank The credit card firm has drawn keen interest from a host of foreign and local companies for its big client base and strong domestic brand, as well as its high-margin card loan business.
Shares in LG Card were up 0.39 percent at 51,200 won by 0201 GMT against the wider market's 0.17 percent rise.
REUTERS CS HS0906