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Business deals

Hyundai Development-led group tapped for majority stake in Asiana

Consortium offered nearly $2.2 bn for loss-making South Korean airline

A consortium led by a Hyundai group company and brokerage Mirae Asset Daewoo offered nearly $2.2 billion a controlling stake in South Korea's Asiana Airlines.

SEOUL (Reuters) -- A consortium led by South Korean construction firm Hyundai Development Co has been picked as the preferred bidder for a controlling stake in Asiana Airlines, the firms said on Tuesday.

The airline's top shareholder, Kumho Industrial, put up its 31.05% stake for sale as it came under pressure from Asiana creditors to reduce debt at the loss-making carrier.

The consortium of Hyundai and brokerage Mirae Asset Daewoo offered nearly 2.5 trillion won ($2.2 billion) for the stake, new shares to be issued by Asiana, and interests in the airline's two budget carriers and other affiliates, according to media reports.

The offer scuppered a rival 2 trillion won bid from a group led by budget airline Jejuair's parent Aekyung, the reports said.

Kumho did not disclose the offer price but said the Hyundai-led consortium was the "most qualified candidate to help normalise Asiana's management and secure its competitiveness in the mid and long term".

South Korean airlines are struggling to be profitable and keep lid on debt as they deal with rising competition from budget rivals, falling tourism traffic between South Korea and Japan, higher fuel costs and unfavourable currencies.

Shares in Asiana jumped 7.7% following the announcement.

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