ING says in talks to repay Dutch aid as soon as possible

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SINGAPORE (Reuters) – ING Groep NV (ING.AS ) is in talks with the Dutch government and European Commission to repay the 4.5 billion euros ($5.84 billion) in aid as soon as possible, an executive said.

ING, which received a capital infusion of 10 billion euros ($12.87 billion) from the Dutch government after the 2008 financial crisis, has been selling its insurance and banking businesses from North America to Asia to raise funds.

“We are keen to pay the Dutch state as soon as possible,” William Connelly, CEO of ING’s commercial banking unit, told reporters in Singapore on Monday. “We are building up our capital to be able to do so.”

“It is part of the very active discussion taking place between ING, the Dutch state and the Brussels’ (European) commission.”

ING has repaid the bulk of the state aid over the last few years, excluding the 4.5 billion euros.

The group is also breaking up its banking and insurance operations, and by 2015, it would only have a global banking business, Connelly said.

Last week, AIA Group Ltd agreed to buy ING’s Malaysian insurance operations for $1.73 billion in cash, handing the Dutch financial services firm its first deal in a nine-month drive to sell off its Asian assets.

Connelly, who was in Singapore to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the bank’s branch in the city-state, dismissed speculation that ING could sell its 31 percent stake in Thailand’s TMB Bank PCL TMB.BK.

“The speculation arises because ING Bank and ING as a group has been the one of the most active participants in the M&A market, so therefore everyone… assumes we would be doing something in TMB? That is not necessarily the case.”

($1 = 0.7712 euros)

(Reporting by Saeed Azhar- Editing by Ryan Woo)

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