* Frans van Houten to lead ING project group on split
* Previously involved in split of NXP from Philips
* ING plans divestment of insurance business by 2013
By Aaron Gray-Block
AMSTERDAM, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Dutch financial services group ING ING.AS(ING.N) said on Saturday it had appointed a former Philips (PHG.AS) executive with restructuring experience to lead the complex split of its insurance and banking units.
ING said in October it would split in two, transforming itself into a smaller European lender as part of a “Back to Basics” programme after it got a 10 billion euro state bail-out last year at the height of the credit crisis. [ID:nLQ54845]
ING spokesman Raymond Vermeulen said ING had appointed Frans van Houten to lead a project group that would manage the split to create separate and independent banking and insurance firms.
Van Houten was previously a management board member and consumer electronics executive at Philips. He was involved in spinning off Philips’ chips unit NXP Semiconductors [NXPSM.UL], where he later was chief executive for more than four years.
“That gives him a lot of experience for the task at hand,” ING’s Vermeulen said. “It is an advantage that he is a neutral outsider with experience in this type of activity.”
Appointed earlier this month as a consultant, Van Houten will lead a project group analysing how to best separate the linked activities and services of the insurance and banking units. He will report back to ING Chief Executive Jan Hommen. ING, one of the top five insurers in Europe, plans to divest its insurance operations by 2013, through IPOs and or sales. It won a 97 percent take up of its 7.5 billion euro rights issue this week and will repay 5 billion euros in state aid on Monday.
Prior to his appointment at ING, Van Houten was employed as an adviser to Dutch semiconductor equipment maker ASM International (ASMI.AS), advising company management on its restructuring plan and capital turnaround.
He completed a masters in economics at Rotterdam’s Erasmus University in 1985. (Editing by Mike Peacock)