ING in talks to sell car leasing arm for billions: report

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Dutch banker ING is negotiating a multi-billion-euro deal to sell its car leasing and fleet management arm, one of Europe's largest, a news report said Monday.

"The business has been busy negotiating the deal in the strictest secrecy for the last few months and has a total value of around four billion euros ($5,6 billion dollars)," the Dutch financial daily Financieele Dagblad reported, quoting sources.

ING confirmed Monday it was discussing a possible deal, but declined to give further details.

Selling ING Car Lease would the see the banker unlock new capital as well as ridding it from a three-billion-euro debt to be shouldered by a new investor, the newspaper said.

ING has been in the process of selling off assets as part of a restructering move imposed by the European Commission in return for a 10-billion-euro ($12 billion US dollars) bailout, received during the height of the global financial crisis in 2008.

But selling its lease and fleet arm was not on the EU's list of disinvestments, said the paper.

ING has sold its US online banking unit to Virginia-based Capital One last week for $9 billion dollars, in one of the largest bank acquisitions in the United States.

The company confirmed in a statement Monday that it was "reviewing strategic alternatives for ING Car Lease, including discussions with third parties interested in a potential acquisition."

"These deliberations may or may not lead to a transaction," it said in a press release.

ING Car Lease is one of the top five car leasing and fleet management companies in Europe not aligned to any particular car maker and has around 240,000 vehicles across eight countries on the continent.

© 2011 AFP

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