Dutch financial institution ING (ING) said Monday that it is in talks with several parties on the sale of parts of its real estate investment management businesses. While ING is not commenting on the negotiations, the market is speculating that several large commercial real estate companies are competing in deals that Reuters estimates could reach $1.5 billion. "These contacts may or may not lead to one or more transactions," a brief statement from ING states. "Any speculation on scope, pricing and conditions of possible transactions would be premature." The health of ING is not in speculation, however, as the company said it will split its banking and insurance operations after incurring a heavy impairment charge in the third quarter of last year. ING remains on the hook for half of its $13 billion bailout from the Dutch government in 2008. ING also needed to boost reserve funds relating to its legacy variable annuity business in the U.S. Standard & Poor's reported on Nov. 10, that the low interest rate environment in the U.S. "increased risks relating to ING's legacy VA business." CB Richard Ellis is said to be the front-runner in the bidding and, in all likelihood, ING will report its U.S. legacy variable annuity business as a separate business line from its other operations before any deal can be completed. ING serves more than 85 million private, corporate and institutional clients in more than 40 countries. Write to Jacob Gaffney. Follow him on Twitter @JacobGaffney.