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Fri, Apr 10, 2009 - Page 10 News List

ING may sell up to US$10.6bn in assets

BLOOMBERG

ING Groep NV, the biggest Dutch financial-services firm, plans to raise as much as 8 billion euros (US$10.6 billion) selling assets after tapping a government rescue fund last year.

ING expects to sell between 10 and 15 businesses “over time and as market conditions permit,” leading to proceeds of 6 billion euros to 8 billion euros, the ­Amsterdam-based company said yesterday in a statement.

“A group of smaller businesses with no clear outlook for market leadership consumes a disproportionate amount of capital,” ING said.

Unloading the units would allow ING to free up about 4 billion euros in capital, it said.

The firm, which traces its roots to 1743, said in February it was reviewing operations after posting a fourth-quarter loss of 3.71 billion euros, a second straight deficit. ING’s retail business in Ukraine will be “unwound,” while life insurance activities in China and Japan are under review.

In the US, ING will explore “strategic options” for its employee benefits, group reinsurance and existing annuities book, it said yesterday.

The Dutch company’s results in the first quarter were significantly better than the fourth quarter, chief executive officer-designate Jan Hommen said on a conference call yesterday.

ING received a 10 billion euro government lifeline in October and is transferring the risk on most Alt-A mortgage assets to the state. The firm has already eliminated more than half of the 7,000 jobs it planned to cut to reduce operating costs by 1 billion euros this year. The company had earlier said it may sell as much as 3 billion euros of assets.

Going forward, the banking business plans to concentrate on operations in the Benelux region, as well as Poland, Romania and Turkey. In insurance, ING will focus on life and retirement services in the Benelux countries, central Europe, the US, Latin America and Asia.

The company will operate its banking and insurance units separately under “one group umbrella to reduce complexity,” ING said.

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