December 8, 2011 / 12:48 PM / 6 years ago

Prudential keen on S.Korea's Tong Yang Life: source

SEOUL (Reuters) - Prudential Financial Inc (PRU.N), the second-largest life insurer in the United states, is interested in buying South Korea’s Tong Yang Life Insurance 082640.KS, a source with knowledge of the matter said.

Tong Yang’s majority stakeholder Vogo Fund is seeking to sell its up to 60.7 percent stake in the insurer worth about 1 trillion won ($888 million).

Woori Finance Holdings 053000.KS has already emerged as a potential local bidder for the business.

Some other foreign players were also eyeing the target with interest, said the source, who declined to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Among potential suitors is Canada’s largest insurer Manulife (MFC.TO), Maeil Business Newspaper reported in its Friday edition.

Manulife’s expansion in Asia is a key part of its goal to boost its annual profit to C$4 billion by 2015.

Vogo Fund was not available for comment. Prudential’s Korean office could not be contacted for comment.

Manulife was not available for an immediate comment.

Woori, South Korea’s biggest financial services firm by assets, said earlier this month it was considering taking over Tong Yang Life to expand into the insurance industry.

South Korean banking groups are searching for new avenues for growth in non-banking assets as the banking sector is already highly-competitive.

Another source said the sale process was still at an early stage and the entire size of the stake on auction was subject to change.

($1 = 1126.1000 Korean won)

Reporting by Ju-min Park; Additional reporting by Denny Thomas in Hong Kong; Editing by Jacqueline Wong, Muralikumar Anantharaman and Jane Merriman

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