* AIA, Manulife, Dai-ichi among other bidders for ING' SE
* ING's SE Asia business valued at about $2.5 bln - sources
* Hanwha Group chairman jailed last week
By Joyce Lee
SEOUL, Aug 20 Korea Life Insurance Co Ltd
is unlikely to pursue its planned purchase of Dutch
insurer ING's Southeast Asian life insurance
operations, a spokesman for the Korean firm's parent Hanwha
Group said on Monday.
The decision could deal a blow to the Dutch financial
group's Asian divestment process, in which it is selling Asian
life insurance and asset management operations in two separate
The Dutch bank and insurer, which expects to bring in a
total of $7 billion in what could be Asia's biggest insurance
M&A deals, plans to use the proceeds to help repay a bailout it
received from the Dutch government during the 2008 financial
Korea Life had competed fiercely to acquire ING's Southeast
Asian life insurance business, but Hanwha Group appeared to be
in a disadvantageous position, said Chang Il-hyung, a spokesman
for Hanwha Group, without giving details.
Korea Life was "likely to drop the bid", the spokesman said.
Hanwha Group's chairman Kim Seung-youn was jailed last week
after receiving a four-year sentence for breach of trust.
Apart from Korea Life, pan-Asian insurer AIA Group Ltd
, Canada's Manulife Financial Corp and Japan's
largest listed life insurer Dai-ichi Life Insurance are
among the companies which have expressed interest in buying
ING's Southeast Asian operations.
ING's Hong Kong, Malaysia and Thailand operations, with an
estimated value of about $2.5 billion, have attracted the
greatest interest. Potential deals, however, could be hampered
by foreign ownership rules in Malaysia and Thailand which ban
foreign insurers from owning 100 percent of domestic insurers.
Hanwha Group, South Korea's tenth largest conglomerate, has
appointed the group's head of management and planning Choi
Kum-am to coordinate business management in Kim's absence.
Hanwha remains committed to finalised or nearly-finalised
deals such as Hanwha Chemical's possible acquisition
of German solar group Q-Cells, the spokesman said.
Hanwha's bids in deals further from completion, however,
could suffer setbacks without Kim's leadership, a source within
the group told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.