The US-based investment bank, Goldman Sachs, has applied to have the South Korean spirits group, Jinro, placed in receivership. Jinro said on Friday that the bank had applied for court receivership after the spirits company missed debt repayments last month.

Under a debt-restructuring programme initiated in 1998, Jinro had been granted a five-year freeze on payments of the debt principal but was due to resume the repayments this year. "We asked creditors to roll over loan payments after we had begun talks to attract foreign investments," a Jinro spokesman said. "But a unit of Goldman Sachs suddenly applied for our court receivership yesterday."

An official at the Seoul District Court confirmed that an application for receivership had been made by a unit of Goldman Sachs. Senna Investments Ltd, part of Goldman Sachs based in Asia, is a principal creditor of Jinro, holding around US$69.37m worth of bonds in Jinro, 10% of the company's capital.

The move follows an announcement earlier this week that Jinro, which produces the traditional Korean liquor, Soju, was looking for foreign investors to help it alleviate its debt. Goldman Sachs has not commented on the development.