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Investments

At long last: ING completes exit from disastrous US business ventures

Completes divestment of Voya Financial

With the sale of 45.6 million shares of Voya Financial (VOYA), ING Group (ING) announced Wednesday that its exit from the U.S. retirement, investment and insurance business is complete.

In January 2014, the Dutch State Treasury Agency, charged with liquidating the foreign assets of ING, announced the final auction for the remaining $2.1 billion in private mortgage bonds, removing it from the mortgage markets. What remained was a hodge-podge of the various aforementioned ventures.

ING Group’s divestment of Voya began in May 2013, when ING Group first spun off ING U.S. and rebranded it as Voya. ING agreed to divest itself from Voya at the direction of the European Commission, as part of its bailout of ING.

According to ING Group, it sold 32 million Voya shares in a public offering at a price of $44.20 per share. ING sold its remaining stake in Voya, 13.6 million shares, back to Voya for $600 million.

Prior to the sale, ING’s ownership in Voya stood at 18.9% of the company.

"Today's sale of our remaining shares in Voya represents a significant milestone in the completion of ING's restructuring," said Ralph Hamers, CEO of ING Group. "This is also the end of an era as it has been 40 years since we first entered the U.S. life insurance business with the acquisition of a majority stake in Wisconsin National Life Insurance Company."

ING’s gross proceeds from the Voya share sale are approximately $2 billion.

“The transaction will not affect the shareholders' equity or capital ratios of ING Bank, while the transaction is expected to have a positive effect of around 60 basis points on the ING Group CET1 ratio on a fully loaded basis,” the company said in a release.

“With this transaction ING Group will have effectively transformed its remaining Group debt position into a cash surplus at the Group level,” ING continued. “With this, ING is meeting one of its key commitments from the EC restructuring plan of eliminating Group core debt.”

ING Bank will remain active in the US through its corporate and institutional clients platform, which is headquartered in New York, the company said in a release.

According to ING, the transactions are expected to settle on March 9. After the completion of these transactions, ING Group will continue to hold warrants for approximately 26 million shares in Voya at an exercise price of $48.75, the company said.

"Since bringing Voya to the stock exchange in 2013 we have solidified our repositioning as a leading European bank while Voya has made a great start as a standalone company,” Hamers added. “We wish our former colleagues at Voya every success in the future."

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