EUROPE NEWS ANALYSIS: Break up mooted for ING

Real estate professionals have been examining the likelihood of ING Real Estate Investment Management being broken up rather than sold as a single entity to a buyer.

Following news last month that Morgan Stanley had been selected to sell the Dutch business – one of the largest real estate investment managers in the world with €64 billion under management – the early consensus view was that ING REIM in Europe could well attract a third party buyer.

ING Clarion, the North American business run by chairman and chief executive Stephen Furnary, and ING REIM in Asia, run by Richard Price, could become independent entities via a management buyout.

One Dutch investor even raised the prospect of Furnary and Price being involved in a co-buy-out. The two used to be “very tight”, said the investor referring to the fact that prior to becoming head of ING Asia, Price worked with Furnary at Clarion’s New York headquarters, responsible for marketing and client service for the company’s non-US institutional clients.

Last month, investors were also privately expressing their fear that Furnary and Price might leave should the business be sold. The investor said that the North American and Asia business behaved independently from ING in Europe.

Nethertheless, ING has appointed Morgan Stanley to sell the whole business, with reports linking giant New York-based fund manager BlackRock as a possible buyer.

According to another source who has received presentations from the group, ING has put in around €3 billion of co-investment globally in ING funds, but the amount ING would be prepared to accept might be closer to €800 million. In addition, ING could want around €200 million for the platform.

“Whoever is going to buy [the platform] could need to cut a €1 billion cheque for €66 billion under management, which is not a bad trade,” the source said.

“The big issue is whether ING would stay as a single entity, or whether ING Clarion and ING Asia would try to do their own deals to buy their own respective businesses,” he added.