KKR, Taeyoung to sell S.Korea JV in more than $2 billion deal - sources

By Kane Wu

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Global buyout firm KKR & Co and South Korea's Taeyoung Group are planning to sell their joint venture Ecorbit in a deal that could value the environment company at more than $2 billion, two people with knowledge of the matter said.

The firms have mandated Citigroup and UBS to manage the sale process, which is expected to begin in the next couple of months, said the people, who declined to be identified as the information is confidential.

KKR, Citi and UBS declined to comment. Taeyoung Group and Ecorbit could not be reached for immediate comment outside business hours. The Korea Economic Daily first reported the bank mandate on Tuesday.

Ecorbit was launched in 2021 through a merger of KKR's waste management company Eco Solutions Group and Taeyoung-owned landfill operator and water management firm TSK Corp. It specializes in water treatment, industrial and medical waste management and material recycling, according to its website.

The sale comes after Taeyoung Group's affiliate Taeyoung Engineering & Construction said in December it would restructure its debt, which amounts to 4.58 trillion won ($3.6 billion) including project financing loans.

The builder's debt woes have prompted South Korea's government to pledge it would work with the central bank to swiftly deploy market stabilising measures if needed.

KKR, which is leading the sale, has yet to finalise details of the plan, while Taeyoung E&C's creditors are expected to meet in the coming weeks, said one of the sources.

The sources said KKR, which manages Ecorbit under its Asia infrastructure fund, and Taeyoung Group are looking to fully exit the company via the sale.

(Reporting by Kane Wu in Hong Kong; Additional reporting by Joyce Lee in Seoul; Editing by Jan Harvey)