Woori takes up the KDB, Kexim challenge

Korean lender looks to tap into sentiment created by Kexim and KDB''s successes.

Deutsche Bank, JPMorgan and Merrill Lynch have been mandated as joint bookrunners to sell an Eu300 million Reg S five-year FRN for Korean lender Woori Bank. The roadshows will be conducted via two teams, one in Asia and one in Europe.

Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan will launch the Asian showcase in Hong Kong on November 28, while Deutsche Bank will host investors in Singapore on the 29th. European roadshows will open up in Paris via Deutsche on the 28th with JPMorgan hosting investors in Frankfurt on the 29th and Merrill Lynch in London on the 30th.

This will be Woori's first tap of the overseas debt market since its senior unsecured $500 million five-year fixed rate deal in September. That deal priced inside of revised price guidance at 37bp over Libor, having initially gone to market with a target yield of 40bp over.

The leads were able to cut guidance by 2bp after S&P upgraded the bank's credit rating to A- from BBB+ during the book build. Woori's main strategy will be to price the deal as aggressively as possible relative to Korea's policy banks - KDB, Kexim and IBK, who have recently tapped into the growing European FRN market.

KDB priced a $500 million seven-year FRN on November 16 at 28bp over Libor. On November 9, Kexim priced a $500 million five-year FRN at 24bp over Libor.

Although price guidance has yet to be established, Woori should benefit from its status as the second largest financial grouping in Korea and investor familiarity with the credit. Bankers expect the deal to look to price in the high 30's to low 40's range.

The new deal will have an investment grade rating from Moody's of Baa1 and A- from S&P. It will be launched off the group's $4 billion global MTN programme.

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