ING can extend its insurance sell-off beyond 2013

Dutch financial services group ING said it can potentially extend the sale of its worldwide insurance business beyond a 2013 deadline as long as it kicks off the process with a stockmarket listing.

Analysts said any delay could potentially help ING get a better price for its assets as markets improve.

ING, which is splitting up its insurance and bank operations and selling assets as part of European Commission approval for its state aid, may get more time if it has sold at least 30 per cent of the assets earmarked for sale through an initial public offering (IPO), the spokesman said.

An ING spokesman cited an EU document, which detailed the extension in a footnote. "Whenever a divestment is undertaken by an IPO process which has commenced and has significant [30 per cent or more] share placements have been made prior to the end of the divestment period, the Commission [in consultation with the Dutch State, ING and the Trustee] will actively consider allowing the entity more time to place remaining shares," the document said.

ING has to sell some Dutch mortgage activities, ING Direct US, and its insurance arm after getting €10 billion (Dh49.7bn) in Dutch state aid in 2008 and state guarantees on €21bn worth of US credit assets.

ING, together with the Dutch state, has asked the Commission to review how it had calculated the amount of state aid the group received.

 

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