The Seoul metropolitan government began to take countermeasures about the sale of the International Financial Center (IFC) surrounded by controversy over a strong possibility that “AIG Group will take money and run” in Seoul’s Yeouido.
According to Seoul City, recently, the city asked a law firm for legal advice on the sale of the IFC. “The IFC building belongs to AIG Development. So, Seoul City does not have any right to talk about the sale of the building,” a representative at the Office of Economy Promotion of the Seoul metropolitan government said. “But its land belongs to Seoul City. Thus, we are legally reviewing whether or not Seoul City has some part to discuss with AIG in order to look for a buyer who will be able to use the building for its original purpose as a Northeast Asian financial hub.”
In the legal consulting, Seoul City also included some content about whether or not the National Pension Corp. is able to purchase the edifice. Recently, the National Pension Corp. expressed its interest in making investment in the building.
“In case of AIG Development, the Foreign Investment Promotion Act gave the company some benefits regarding land lease fees among others” a Seoul City official said. “In the event that domestic capital is invested in the building, a legal problem can arise. Therefore, we are comprehensively carrying out legal reviews of such part.”
As Seoul City began to respond in connection with the possible sell-off of the building in a manner in which AIG Development will be able to make easy money, people are paying attention to if any measures will be actually taken.
In regards to this, experts see that Seoul City will not be able to play a major role in the case.
Why? When Lee Myung-bak was the mayor of Seoul in 2005, the Seoul metropolitan government signed a contract with AIG Group, a contract which is disadvantageous to the Seoul metropolitan government. The contract says that AIG Group will be able to sell off three office buildings and one shopping mall in the IFC beginning on Jan. 1, 2016. But the contract does not have any obligation about attracting foreign financial institutions to the building.