State-run Korea Development Bank (KDB) and other banks want to sell their 50.4 percent stake in the world's third-largest shipbuilder and KDB picked the Wall Street bank in April to handle the deal.
"We had been in talks with Goldman, a preferred negotiator, to manage the deal," a KDB spokesman said by telephone. "But Goldman said it could not accept our requests, so the talks ended."
He declined to give any details on those requests. Goldman Sachs declined to comment.
The sale is expected to be the country's biggest M&A transaction this year, fetching more than $4 billion, based on the stake's market value of 4.15 trillion won ($4 billion).
Local media reported, without citing sources, that the KDB had asked Goldman Sachs to address a potential conflict of interest because the U.S. bank had invested in a Chinese shipbuilder. The shipbuilding company was not identified.
Ernst & Young has been selected as the accounting adviser and South Korean law firm Lee & Ko as legal adviser.
The deal has drawn interest from a number of domestic companies, including steel giant POSCO and South Korean business group Hanwha.
Goldman Sachs topped South Korea's M&A arrangers' league table in 2007, when it managed a sale of shares in broadband provider hanarotelecom shares by a consortium led by American International Group to SK Telecom.