Report: ING May Sell its $1B Hong Kong Business Separately

Complicating the massive and lengthy auction of its Asian operations, ING (NYSE:ING) is exploring a separate sale of its $1 billion Hong Kong insurance business, according to a report by Reuters citing sources close to the matter.

The Dutch insurer has long been trying to sell its businesses in Asia as part of a broader plan to repay a 2008 government bailout that saved it from bankruptcy during the Great Recession.

After a more than six-month hunt, the financial services giant had been unable to find a buyer for the package valued at $7 billion and decided earlier this month to split the effort into three distinct regions of Japan, South Korea and Southeast Asia.

Now, it seems to be taking that effort one step further by siphoning out Hong Kong as well, which remains a part of a clump of countries under Southeast Asia.

Sources close to the matter told Reuters it’s an effort to try to expedite the process, particularly as the Southeast Asia group faces a slew of regulatory hurdles such as foreign ownership restrictions that have complicated a sale.

Those people also said a final decision has not been made.

An ING spokeswoman said a divestment may take place "through multiple transactions."

"ING is exploring options for the divestment of its Asian insurance and investment management businesses," she said. "We have received interest for all units."