ING prepares for two IPOs post bailout

City A.M. Reporter
Dutch bankassurance group ING said yesterday it planned two initial public offerings, rather than one, for its insurance activities as part of a mandatory split-up imposed because of its state bailout.

Chief executive Jan Hommen said two IPOs could allow ING to achieve a higher valuation and raise more money for insurance assets with a combined book value of €21bn (£17.9bn). The group still needs to repay half of its €10bn Dutch state capital injection. “While the option of one IPO remains open, we are going to prepare ourselves for a base case of two IPOs for our insurance business,” he said.

A Europe-focused IPO would have a solid cashflow combined with strong growth positions in developing markets, he said, while a separate US-focused IPO would have a strong position in retirement services.

ING shares opened weaker before closing 2.4 per cent higher at €8.16, below a year high of €8.18 set in October and after a 15.5 per cent rise this year for a market value of some €30bn. The two IPOs would give ING more flexibilty as investors used different valuation models for operations in the US and Europe while European Solvency II regulatory changes would make the US business less competitive, Hommen added.

Hommen said while the fourth quarter of 2011 was still possible as a window for the market operations, 2012 was more likely for the floats in Amsterdam and New York.

He added that the group is still in talks with many interested parties about the insurance operations.

The smaller WestlandUtrecht Bank unit will run as a standalone unit from 18 November. The ING brand will stay with banking activities. The split of ING into banking and insurance businesses will reverse its creation through the merger nearly 20 years ago of bank NMB and insurer Nationale Nederlanden.