Morgan chosen as top Daewoo bidder(2)

Nearly a year after Ripplewood’s $740 million deal for Daewoo fell apart, Morgan Stanley appears headed toward an agreement to buy the Korean electronics company.

Morgan Stanley Private Equity has reportedly been selected as the preferred bidder for South Korea’s Daewoo Electronics, just months after closing a $1.5 billion Asia fund.

The company’s main creditor, Woori Bank, e-mailed a statement today that said Morgan Stanley had emerged as the top bidder from an auction process commenced in November, Bloomberg reported. Following Morgan Stanley’s due diligence, a final agreement is expected to be signed in May, Woori said. The statement did not contain financial terms or names of other bidding groups.

A Morgan Stanley spokeswoman declined to comment.

Korean media described the other bidders as foreign financial firms and noted that they included New York private equity firm Ripplewood Holdings as a direct bidder, Reuters reported.

Daewoo TV

Ripplewood had in late 2006 been selected to purchase Daewoo via its Indian portfolio company Videocon Industries, but the deal later fell apart due to price discrepancies. That deal was estimated to be in the range of $740 million.

Daewoo, whose parent group collapsed in 1999 in the wake of the Asian financial crisis, has been restructuring in the hopes of finding a new buyer, according to Korean daily newspaper JoonAng. Last year the company laid off 1,500 of its 4,000 employees and divested its car audio and navigation division, it said. The company's primary products include television sets and refridgerators.

This is not the first time Morgan Stanley has won a Daewoo auction: last year its REIT purchased the headquarters of Daewoo Engineering & Construction in Seoul for $1 billion, setting a record for Korean real estate deals.