The chairman of South Korea's Financial Services Commission, Jun Kwang-woo, spoke out Monday about last week's reports that state-controlled Korea Development Bank was possibly interested in buying Lehman Brothers.
On Friday, Reuters quoted a KDB spokesperson as saying, "We are studying a number of options and are open to all possibilities, which could include [buying] Lehman."
However, Jun told journalists Monday, "I think that KDB might have considered forming and leading a consortium [to buy Lehman Brothers]. But it appears burdensome for a state-run institution to play a leading role [in the purchase of a foreign company] and take risks which may be more than financial."
When asked about the status of KDB's talks with Lehman, Jun stated, "That would be an international marriage. Would you get married just after one or two blind dates?"
Jun said cross-border acquisitions of foreign companies by South Korean entities should be led by players in the private sector, while state-owned companies such as KDB should take a "cheerleader role."
KDB has not confirmed publicly that it directly approached Lehman.
The Korean government hopes to privatize KDB by 2012, thereby transforming it into a global investment bank.
Lehman's shares traded at $13.64 on Monday morning, down from Friday's closing price of $14.41. Lehman's stock was boosted Friday by 16% to a high of $15.93 per share due to the KDB speculation.