ING mulls private bank sale

DUTCH bank ING is understood to have hired JPMorgan to manage the sale of its European and Asian private banking business, valued by the bank at more than &euro;700m (&pound;605m).<br /><br />The bank announced a plan earlier this year to dispose of up to &euro;8bn worth of assets, as new chief executive Jan Hommen bids to turn the firm around following the &euro;10bn rescue package it took from the Dutch government last year.<br /><br />ING has declined to comment on which assets are in the shop window but the private banking unit, which manages &euro;55bn worldwide, would be suitable for sale after it made a &euro;12m loss in the fourth quarter of 2008.<br /><br />The bank attributed the unit&rsquo;s poor performance to loan loss provisions in its Asian operations.<br /><br />Sources close to the situation stressed that the sale process was still in its early stages and that any deal was not likely to be announced for several months.<br /><br />But the sale could attract interest from emerging markets-focused bank Standard Chartered, Credit Suisse, which has been hiring private bankers in Asia, and Australia&rsquo;s ANZ, which has been eyeing up parts of RBS Asia.<br /><br />A sale worth &euro;700m would be a significant boost for the bank, which is struggling to pay back the Dutch government after suffering a net loss of &euro;793m in the first quarter of the year.<br /><br />Efforts to cut costs by &euro;1bn this year have seen the bank announce plans to exit 10 of the 48 countries in which it operates and initiate a round of job cuts.<br /><br />The bank also agreed to sell its majority stake in ING Canada earlier this year for &euro;1.4bn.<br /><br />Both ING and JPMorgan declined to comment yesterday.