ING’s Asian sell off gathers pace as Korea deal enters final stage

Michael Bow
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DUTCH insurer ING is closing in on a deal to offload its South Korean business for at least $2.2bn (£1.4bn) in the first wave of disinvestments the insurer is set to make in Asia this year.

South Korean firm KB Financial is the frontrunner to land ING Life Insurance Company Korea, its insurance business in the country, after its chairman Euh Yoon-dae yesterday revealed it was in the final stages of negotiations with ING about a sale and is set to ink a deal next week. The sale would be the first in a round of sell-offs by ING in Asia, as the firm seeks to raise funds to pay back a state bailout it received in 2008.

On Tuesday, AIA Group emerged as the front-runner to buy ING's Malaysia and Thailand insurance operations in a deal that could be worth around $2bn. ING had originally wanted to sell off its insurance operations in Asia, which is valued at €6.1bn, as one whole business, but has now settled on selling off the operations piece by piece. The firm’s Asian insurance businesses posted a €160m pre-tax profit last quarter, up from €135m in the previous year.