By Kanga Kong
-- Korea Life and KB Financial have been shortlisted in the bidding for ING's Asia life insurance business, people familiar with the matter say
-- KB Financial bidding for Korean operations alone
-- Price tag for entire operations could rise above $7 billion
(Adds confirmation from sources of KB Financial being shortlisted and more details throughout.)
SEOUL (MarketWatch) -- Korea Life Insurance Co. and KB Financial Group Inc. have been shortlisted in the bidding for ING Groep NV's /zigman2/quotes/203566071/composite ING -3.72% life insurance operations in Asia, people familiar with the matter said on Thursday.
The price tag for the operations could potentially rise above $7 billion, according to analysts, meaning an eventual sale would be one of the biggest insurance deals in the Asia-Pacific region ever.
Korea Life and KB Financial were among several initial bidders, including MetLife Inc. /zigman2/quotes/206319319/composite MET -2.10% of the U.S., Canada's Manulife Financial Corp. and Hong Kong's AIA Group Ltd. , people familiar with the matter have said.
The people said that while both Korean companies have made the shortlist of bidders, KB Financial is bidding only for ING's Korean operations.
The sales process allows for bidders to bid for only part of the business, or all of it. KB Financial has been looking to expand its non-banking business, especially its life insurance business, as it relies heavily on its flagship banking unit Kookmin Bank for revenue.
The Dutch bank has asked potential buyers of its Asian life insurance operations to choose to bid for either the entire Asian operations, the Korean operations, the Japanese operations, or the Southeast Asian operations, one of the people told Dow Jones Newswires.