ING Considering Sale of UK, Canadian Online Banks

August 3, 2012

The Netherlands-based group ING, which has been forced to sell assets in return for receiving state aid during the financial crisis, said it is considering the sale of its UK and Canadian online banking units, estimated to be worth about €1.2 billion ($1.468 billion).

The Dutch banking and insurance group did not give a value for either of the two online banking businesses which it said have 1.8 million customers in Canada and more than 1.5 million in the UK.

But Rabobank analyst Cor Kluis said he valued the two businesses at about €1.2 billion ($1.468 billion), or as much as €2.1 billion [$2.57 billion] if excess cash in the Canadian unit was to be included.

ING received €10 billion [$12.22 billion] in Dutch state aid during the 2008 financial crisis.

As a condition of its bail-out, it agreed with the European Commission to reduce its balance sheet, split its bank and insurance operations, and sell assets such as its Dutch bank unit Westland Utrecht and its U.S. online bank ING Direct.

But it is also selling other assets as it streamlines its businesses and raises funds to repay the state, and the Canadian and UK online banking businesses are part of that review, a spokeswoman for the bank said.

“ING continuously evaluates its portfolio of businesses, in line with its stated objective of sharpening its focus,” ING said in a statement, adding that it was “reviewing strategic options” for the Canadian and UK units.

ING agreed to sell ING Direct, its U.S. online bank, to Capital One Financial Corp last year for about $9 billion in stock and cash: the deal was finally approved in February.

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