ING Gains on $1.2 Billion Sale of Stake in U.S. Insurer Voya

Sep 03, 2014 8:21 am ET

(Updates with pricing in second paragraph.)

Sept. 3 (Bloomberg) -- ING Groep NV, the biggest Dutch bank, gained in Amsterdam trading as it reduced its stake in a former U.S. insurance unit, Voya Financial Inc., to about 32 percent by selling about $1.2 billion of shares.

ING sold 30 million shares of Voya at $38.85 each, according to a statement today from the Amsterdam-based lender. As part of the plan, Voya repurchased $300 million of its common stock from ING, the companies said. The offering priced below yesterday’s close of $39.37.

ING has been winding down its investment in Voya to comply with terms of a 2008 bailout. The Dutch company divested shares in an initial public offering in 2013 and has since reduced its holding. Today’s sale cut ING’s stake in Voya from 43 percent. The company was ordered by European Union regulators to completely dispose of its remaining insurance assets, which include a 68 percent stake in NN Group NV, by the end of 2016.

ING rose 2 percent to 10.76 euros at 2 p.m. in Amsterdam, bringing its advance for the year to 6.5 percent. Voya gained 12 percent this year through yesterday in New York.

ING “has entered the last leg of the restructuring of its insurance operations, following which it will be a pure retail and commercial bank,” JPMorgan Chase & Co. analysts including Kian Abouhossein said in a Sept. 1 note to clients. The stock has “material dividend payout potential.”

ING last paid a dividend in August 2008, shortly before the financial crisis as the bank turned to the government for 10 billion euros ($13 billion). ING still owes taxpayers 1.03 billion euros, which is due by May. The bank last month said it may reimburse the government before the deadline, paving the way for a return to dividends, depending on the outcome of an asset quality review by the European Central Bank in October.