AIA Group Ltd. (1299) and Metlife Inc. (MET:US) are among companies that made offers for ING Groep NV (INGA)’s Asian life insurance business, people familiar with the matter said.
Manulife Financial Corp. (MFC) and Korea Life Insurance Co. also submitted preliminary bids last week, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is private. ING may give some of the bidders access to financial data in two weeks, two of the people said.
ING, under European Union orders to divest its insurance operations before the end of 2013 as a condition of state aid, is seeking at least $7 billion for the business, people with knowledge of the matter said in March.
The largest Dutch financial-services company planned to sell the entire business in one piece, though some bidders are seeking to acquire certain operations, such as in Southeast Asia, the people said. KB Financial Group Inc. said on March 23 that it is interested ING’s insurance operations in South Korea.
ING spokesman Raymond Vermeulen declined to comment on the sale, as did Sonia Tsang, a spokeswoman for AIA in Hong Kong. Korea Life declined to comment in an e-mail. Officials at Metlife’s and Manulife’s offices in Hong Kong didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
ING has invested 5 billion euros ($6.4 billion) in Asia, with Korea and Japan accounting for 1.5 billion euros each, according to a Jan. 17 research report by JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPMorgan is advising ING on the sale, together with Goldman Sachs Group Inc.
The Dutch company is also selling its asset management business in Asia and may invite potential buyers to make a second round of bids next week, one of the people said. The asset-management business is worth about 500 million euros ($655 million), according to an April 19 estimate by Hans Pluijgers, an Amsterdam-based analyst at Credit Agricole Cheuvreux.
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