December 12, 2009
ING Canada Inc. (TSX: IIC) is the publicly-traded holding company that owns Intact Insurance Co. (previous ING Insurance Co. of Canada), the largest property and casualty insurer in Canada, and Trafalgar Insurance Co. which operates as Belairdirect and Grey Power (two more p&c insurers in Canada). It used to be wholly owned by ING Groep in the Netherlands until about 2003 or so when it sold a 25% stake in an initial public offering on the Toronto Stock Exchange. This year, it just sold 70% of the company in a secondary public offering and is now 95% publicly traded with ING Groep owning only a small minority 5% stake in the company. ING Canada (the holding company in Canada) does plan to rename itself Intact Canada or something like that, reflecting its new operating company's name and the divestiture by ING Groep.
ING Groep also owns ING Direct, its direct banking operations around the world. Today, ING Direct remains wholly owned by ING Groep; however, the Dutch government does own a controlling stake of nearly 50% of ING Groep as a result of multiple bailouts to prop its capital ratios.
If ING Groep goes ahead with more divestitures, as I suspect they will, I see them selling ING Direct in Canada as it's one of the more successful divisions that could command top dollar. I do see Manulife Bank as one possible buyer but I could potentially see other bidders including competitor ICICI Bank, which would likely like to add to its retail deposits, and PC Financial or perhaps even other retail banks like HSBC.
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