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Blackstone backs Wilson in ING Asian sale race: source
NEW YORK/HONG KONG |
NEW YORK/HONG KONG (Reuters) - Mark Wilson, the former chief executive of AIA Group Ltd (1299.HK), has won support from Blackstone Group LP (BX.N) in a quest for the Asia insurance unit of ING Groep NV (ING.AS), a source directly familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
Buyout firm Blackstone has agreed to participate in Wilson's consortium, which includes Swiss Re AG (SRENH.VX) and other parties, the source said on condition of anonymity.
Blackstone declined to comment while Swiss Re and Wilson were not immediately available for comment.
ING's sale of its Asian life insurance business would help the Dutch bancassurer to partly repay the state aid it received from the Dutch government during the 2008 crisis. In a separate process, ING is also selling its asset management business.
Blackstone's support comes ahead of a final bid deadline of July 16 for the business. The sale could top $7 billion, ranking as Asia's top insurance deal and adding to a flurry of financial institutions deals being launched in Asia this year.
Sources told Reuters in June that AIA Group and Canada's Manulife Financial Corp (MFC.TO) had made it through a shortlist and could submit a final bid.
Japan's Dai-ichi Life Co Ltd (8750.T) and South Korea's KB Financial Group (105560.KS) were among the other bidders that had made it into the next round, the sources added.
Richard Li, the son of Asia's richest man Li Ka-shing, is also interested in the business, although one person close to the matter said that Li was just bidding for the Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand business.
ING's Southeast Asia operations, which is the smallest part of the Asian operations by profits and premium income but the fastest growing, has generated the strongest interest among the assets up for sale, the sources said.
Bloomberg reported on Blackstone's backing of Wilson earlier on Wednesday.
(Reporting by Greg Roumeliotis in New York and Denny Thomas in Hong Kong; Editing by Tim Dobbyn)
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