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Seoul regulators eye Goldman Sachs

Kookmin Bank is South Korea's biggest lender.
Kookmin Bank is South Korea's biggest lender.

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(CNN) -- U.S. investment bank Goldman Sachs is under the spotlight in South Korea after selling almost four percent of its stake in Kookmin Bank.

Regulators in Seoul will be checking if rules were violated when Goldman Sachs sold part of its stake in Kookmin Bank.

The sale came just a week after a Goldman Sachs analyst raised his recommendation for Kookmin from "in-line" to "outperform."

Kookmin shares rose nearly 15 percent after the report was released, but the U.S. bank says the analyst's report and the Kookmin stake sale were not related.

Goldman Sachs said it raised $465 million from the sale of 13 million American Depositary Receipts (ADRs), equal to a 3.96 percent stake.

That cut its share in Kookmin -- South Korea's biggest lender -- from 5.13 percent to 1.17 percent.

Koomin shares fell six and a half percent Friday after news of the sale came out, but they closed a third of a percent higher Monday.

Goldman Sachs bought into Kookmin in mid-1999, paying about $500 million for shares and bonds.

In June last year, it raised $633 million from selling part of that stake, and Thursday's sale means it has now recouped more than twice its original investment.

Kookmin's largest shareholder is the South Korean government, with 9.33 percent, followed by Dutch bank ING with four percent.

The government is planning to sell its stake and will select lead managers next week, Finance and Economy Minister Kim Jin-pyo said Friday.


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