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TRADE FINANCE | Cesar Tordesillas, Korea

KB, Korea Life to vie for ING Life Korea

KB Financial and Korea Life Insurance were among the preferred bidders to buy ING Group’s Asian insurance business.

The shortlist came as a second phase after the Netherlands-based financial group accepted the preliminary bids for the sale of its Asia-Pacific unit two weeks ago. According to the sources, about 20 Korean and international potential suitors have lined up to get access to the preliminary sale documents by submitting letters of intent.

Other suitors to advance to the next round of bidding include two biggest U.S. life insurers MetLife and Prudential Financial, and Canadian-listed Manulife Financial and Canada’s life insurer Sun Life. Japan's Nikko Asset Management and U.S.-based Principal Financial Group are also the other shortlisted parties.

The participation of big global financial groups and insurers has intensified the competition for what would be the biggest insurance industry transaction of its kind in Asia, as they see a great growth potential in the Asian market due to expanding middle classes who buy life, health and savings products, market analysts said.

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