ING to seek separate listing for insurance arm, sell minority stake to large investors

AMSTERDAM – ING Groep NV says it is proceeding with a plan to move its remaining insurance operations into a separate listed company, NN Group.

The Dutch bank and insurance group has no choice under an agreement with European regulators to compensate for having received state aid during the 2008 financial crisis.

ING did not set a date for the offering in a statement Thursday morning, but implied it would be finished this year. It said the independent NN Group would pay shareholders a dividend for the second half of 2014.

ING said it will sell a minority stake to large investors during the offering, and will then reduce its stake in stages to less than 50 per cent by the end of 2015, and zero by the end of 2016.

Earlier this year ING sold 1.125 billion euros ($1.53 billion) worth of convertible bonds in NN Group to a trio of Asian investors including Temasek of Singapore. That’s a potential stake of — very roughly — 10 per cent in NN Group, which ING said had pretax profit of 903 million euros in 2013.

ING has previously sold off insurance operations in the U.S. and Asia, gradually reducing its net debt to the Dutch state from 10 billion euros initially to just over 1 billion now.

Lard Friese, the top executive at NN Group within ING, will become CEO of the independent company.