ING Groep NV, seeking to sell its asset-management division in Asia, has approached potential buyers including Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group Inc. and Invesco Ltd., four people with knowledge of the matter said.
The largest Dutch financial-services company has sent information on the unit to potential bidders that may also include Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Bank of New York Mellon Corp. and Schroders Plc, said the people, who declined to be identified as the process is confidential. ING is asking for non-binding offers by around late May, one person said.
ING’s Asian asset-management business is worth about 500 million euros ($655 million), according to an estimate by Hans Pluijgers, an Amsterdam-based analyst at Credit Agricole Cheuvreux. The company is under European Union orders to sell its insurance and investment management businesses before the end of 2013, after receiving state aid in 2008 and 2009.
ING may sell the asset management unit in Asia separately or together with its insurance operations in the region. Selling the divisions together may be easier for ING because the asset-management unit oversees money on behalf of the insurance business, said Pluijgers.
“While selling the Asian business in parts will probably drive up the proceeds for ING, it is also more difficult to execute,” he said.
Other companies that have shown interest in the asset-management unit are Blackrock Inc., State Street Corp., AMP Ltd. and Nikko Asset Management Co., two people with knowledge of the proess said. Spokesmen for ING and the potential bidders declined to comment or weren’t immediately available.
In January, ING scrapped a plan to create an Asian-European insurer next to a U.S. unit and said it may sell the Asian business separately, given its greater allure for buyers after European markets worsened. Chief Executive Officer Jan Hommen in February told reporters it was too early to tell whether the asset management business would be sold separately.
The Asian part of ING’s investment management business had a book value of about 300 million euros at the end of last year, according to a company presentation dated Feb. 9. The Asian unit oversaw 41.7 billion euros as of Dec. 31.
ING investment management oversees assets for ING insurance as well as third-party retail and institutional clients. The Asian unit has operations in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and India according to its website. ING Insurance is active in seven Asian countries: Japan, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, China, Hong Kong and India.
About 60 percent of the unit’s assets under management are on behalf of ING’s insurance business, one of the people said.