ING may exit the Indian insurance market

ING, which holds a 26% stake in the Indian joint venture, ING Life Insurance Company, may exit the insurance business. ING which is of Dutch origin, is considered to be one of the largest banking/financial services & insurance conglomerate in the world. ING entered Indian life insurance market by forming a joint venture with Exide industries, Ambuja cements and Enam group.

As part of a global restructuring programme, ING will concentrate on their position as an international retail, direct and commercial bank, while creating an optimal base for an independent future for our insurance and investment management operations. This could be the reason ING is planning to exit from Indian insurance business.

There are a few foreign partners with whom discussions of stake sale seem to be going on. Exide Industries, the largest shareholder (50%) in the JV ING Life Insurance Company, is also rumoured to exit from insurance business. If both the companies exit, then the life insurance joint venture will need to find a foreign insurance company and an Indian partner to continue operations. Otherwise, the only option left will be to go for a merger with another life insurance company.

Many other companies have been in the news for plans to exit insurance business such as Bharti of Bharti Axa, Kishore Biyani led Future group and Royal of Royal Sundaram General Insurance. The challenging market conditions in the Indian insurance market are forcing companies to rethink their long-term product and distribution strategy. Existing players in the life insurance industry are finding it increasingly difficult to stay afloat in terms of overall sales and profitability.