July 23, 2009 / 8:15 AM / 10 years ago

ING hires JPMorgan to sell private bank units: sources

SINGAPORE (Reuters) — Dutch bank ING Group ING.AS has hired JPMorgan (JPM.N) to advise on the sale of ING’s private banking business in Europe and Asia, which could fetch more than $1 billion, sources told Reuters on Thursday.

The sale is part of ING’s move to raise cash after being hit badly by the global credit crisis, which forced it into a loss in 2008 and led to the Dutch government injecting 10 billion euros into the bank.

“The deal could be over a billion dollar,” said a source with direct knowledge of the deal, adding JPMorgan is advising the firm. “But it’s a bit early in the process.”

ING declined to comment and JPMorgan was not available to comment.

The Dutch bank has been working on a program to reduce risks, raise up to 8 billion euros from asset sales and exit from 10 of 48 countries where it operates.

“I think it is a good sign that will give an extra buffer to ING. Secondly, in private banking, ING will never become a world leader. Strategically it makes sense (to sell),” Rabo Securities analyst Cor Kluis said.

Kluis said he did not expect ING to sell its Dutch private banking business, which administered 20 billion euros in assets out of the total 62 billion euros the Dutch bank had under management at the end of 2008.

He also said a price of more than $1 billion for the operations, excluding the Dutch unit, was possible.

The sale of ING’s private bank unit, which was loss-making in the fourth quarter of 2008, may take a few months and could draw interest from global and Asian players, a second source with knowledge of the deal said.

“Maybe the Australians would be interested or large Euro commercial banks,” said a Singapore-based private banker who is not involved in the deal.

The sources declined to be identified because the deal is not public yet.

ING Private Banking made a loss of 12 million euros in the fourth quarter of 2008 due to loan loss provisions at Private Banking Asia, the bank said in February.

ING announced in November the sale of its private banking operations in Curacao to Dutch private bank Van Lanschot (VLAN.AS) to focus its operations on Europe and Asia. The unit managed 500 million euros of assets.

ING shares were unchanged at 7.90 euros by 0858 GMT, in line with the rest of the DJ Stoxx European Insurance index .SXIP.

Additional reporting by Gilbert Kreijger in Amsterdam; Editing by Kevin Lim/Muralikumar Anantharaman/Marie Maitre

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