ING U.S. files for initial public offering as part of bailout deal

Life insurer could raise $7 billion in proceeds from listing

Nov 9, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

ING U.S. Inc., an insurance unit of the largest Dutch financial-services company, filed for an initial public offering as the parent company narrows its focus.

Morgan Stanley (MS) and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) will lead the ING U.S. share sale, according to a regulatory filing from the New York-based unit. The IPO could raise 5.5 billion euros ($7 billion) in proceeds, Cor Kluis, an Utrecht, Netherlands-based analyst at Rabobank International, said in a note dated Nov. 7.

ING Groep NV (INGA) was ordered by the European Union to sell insurance operations, its U.S. online bank and a Dutch mortgage lender before the end of 2013 as a condition for approval of a 2008 bailout. The U.S. unit, led by ex-American International Group Inc. (AIG) executive Rodney Martin, competes with MetLife Inc. (MET) and Prudential Financial Inc. (PRU) selling savings products as workers rely less on their employers for pensions.

“We have leading positions in our retirement solutions and insurance solutions businesses,” ING U.S. said in the filing. “The weakening of historical safety nets provided by governments and employers, such as Social Security and defined benefit plans, are increasing the need for Americans to plan for their own long-term financial security.”

The U.S. unit has about 13 million customers and offers savings products and annuities in addition to life insurance, according to the filing. ING U.S.'s total revenue declined 7.4 percent in the six months through June 30 from a year earlier to $4.85 billion, while net income fell 58 percent to $331 million, according to the regulatory filing.

Asset Sales

ING said in January it would review non-essential banking assets after a target of repaying its government bailout in 2012 became less certain amid Europe's debt crisis and stiffer regulatory burdens.

ING Chief Executive Officer Jan Hommen sold the Amsterdam- based company's U.S. online bank to Capital One Financial Corp. (COF) for about $9 billion this year and disposed of the Latin American insurance operations last year. He's also agreed to sell the Canadian online bank to Bank of Nova Scotia. AIA Group Ltd., the third-largest Asia-based insurer, agreed last month to buy ING's Malaysia insurance business.

The filing lists the U.S. IPO for $100 million, a placeholder number used to calculate registration fees. ING's book value was $12.8 billion as of June 30, according to the filing.

MetLife, based in New York, trades for about 56 percent of its book value of $64.6 billion. Prudential trades for 64 percent of the measure of assets minus liabilities.

Interest rates near record lows and stock market volatility have pressured results at life insurers, which invest customer payments to generate profits and back future obligations.

Renewed Pressure

“Difficult market conditions are negatively affecting industry returns and valuations, and pressuring key credit metrics,” Fitch Ratings said in a statement yesterday. “This places renewed pressure on U.S. life insurers struggling to rebound from the financial crisis.”

Martin, 60, in September promoted Alain Karaoglan, another ex-AIG manager, to be chief operating officer as the unit prepares for the IPO. Karaoglan helped AIG in 2010 with the IPO of AIA for more than $20 billion.

--Bloomberg News--

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