(ING) ING Groep NV Sells Stake in China Merchants Fund Joint Venture

On Monday, ING Groep NV (ING) announced a deal to sell its entire stake in China Merchants Fund (CMF) to its joint venture (JV) partners of the fund. Founded in 2002, China Merchants Fund is a JV between ING Investment Management (33.3%), China Merchants Bank (33.4%) and China Merchants Securities Co. Ltd (33.3%).

The deal will bring €98 million ($128 million) in cash to ING and is anticipated to be completed in the second quarter of 2013, subject to certain regulatory terms and conditions. Upon closure, it is also likely to result in a profit of approximately €64 million ($83.6 million).

ING is under stipulation by the European Union to sell its insurance and investment management division by 2013, since it had been granted a bailout fund by the Dutch government during the financial crisis in 2008. The deal marks ING’s first stride towards the divestment of its Asian insurance and asset-management business. Earlier in September, Ameriprise Financial Inc. (AMP) was almost in final stages of talks to acquire the majority of the Asian asset-management unit of ING, excluding the joint ventures.

Previously, under the regulatory authorities’ orders, in August, the company announced the sale of ING Direct Canada – the Internet banking division of ING Bank of Canada – to The Bank Of Nova Scotia (BNS). Further, in February 2012, it completed the sale of its online banking unit – ING Direct USA – to Capital One Financial Corp. (COF).

We believe completion of such deals will help ING in repayment of bailout funds to the Dutch government. Further, it will help ING to pay more attention to its core businesses amidst a bleak macroeconomic environment.

ING currently retains a Zacks #4 Rank, which translates into a short-term Sell rating.
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