Goldman Sachs Group Inc. plans to exit the South Korean asset management business amid sluggish global stock markets, according to three people with knowledge of the situation.

The Wall Street firm will probably take steps to protect customers of its Goldman Sachs Asset Management Korea Co. unit, said two of the people, who asked not to be named as the matter is private. They didn’t specify the timing of an exit.

“Our expectations for the local Korean asset management business have not been met,” Niklas Ekholm, a London-based spokesman for Goldman Sachs Asset Management, said in an e- mailed statement. MoneyToday, a Korean-language Internet news provider, reported the plan earlier today.

Goldman Sachs Asset Management Korea had 40 employees and six directors as of June 30, according to data on its website. It began operations after Goldman Sachs bought Macquarie IMM Asset Management Co. in September 2007, the website shows.