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Wed, Oct 14, 2009 - Page 10 News List

Singaporean bank in talks with ING over acquisition

HUSH, HUSH OCBC gave no details, but Dow Jones Newswires cited sources as saying ING may raise US$1.5 billion by selling banking assets in Asia

AFP AND BLOOMBERG , SINGAPORE

Singapore’s Oversea-Chinese Banking Corp (OCBC) said yesterday it was in talks with Dutch lender ING for a possible acquisition.

OCBC gave no details, but Dow Jones Newswires quoted unnamed sources as saying ING hoped to raise US$1.5 billion by selling its Asian private banking assets and that a deal should be finalized in the next few weeks.

“The bank wishes to inform shareholders that it is in discussions with ING in relation to a possible acquisition,” OCBC said in a statement filed with the local stock exchange. “The discussions are consistent with the bank’s strategy of looking for growth opportunities in the region.”

But OCBC also cautioned investors there was no guarantee that a deal would be reached.

“Shareholders are advised that there is no certainty that any transaction or agreement will result from the discussions,” the bank said.

ING had announced in April plans to sell up to 8 billion euros (US$11.83 billion) in assets to reduce its risk exposure and focus on core business.

It said the sales would affect 10 to 15 business areas in the course of the next few years, leaving the company focused on Europe, life insurance and pensions savings.

ING received a government capital injection of 10 billion euros to help it through the global financial crisis.

Separately, Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc (RBS) said a third of its employees working in the Singapore office of its private bank, Coutts, have resigned.

The departures include 20 managers and 50 administration workers, an RBS spokesman in London said by telephone yesterday.

The Financial Times, which reported the story earlier yesterday, said the resignations might be related to bonus prospects.

London-based RBS has overhauled its boardroom after it reported the biggest loss in UK corporate history last year.

The bank plans to sell or restructure units in about two-thirds of the countries in which it operates.

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