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Blackstone, Swiss Re Join Bid for ING Asian Assets

NEW YORK--Blackstone Group L.P. (BX) and Swiss Re AG (SREN.VX) are joining former AIA Group Ltd. (1299.HK) Chief Executive Mark Wilson in bidding for ING Groep NV's (ING, INGA.AE) Asian life-insurance arm, a person familiar with the situation told Dow Jones Newswires Wednesday. Blackstone is, so far, the only private-equity firm participating in the auction that could potentially raise $7 billion for the Dutch bank. MetLife Inc. (MET) of the U.S., Canada's Manulife Financial Corp. (MFC, 0945.HK), American International Group Inc.'s (AIG) Asian life insurer AIA Group Ltd. (AAGIY, 1299.HK) previously led by Mr. Wilson and Korea Life Insurance Co. (088350.SE) are all in the race for the ING Asian assets, the Wall Street Journal reported in May, citing people familiar with the matter. Also bidding for the assets is Hong Kong tycoon Richard Li. Mr. Li bought AIG's asset management firm in 2010 and has since renamed it PineBridge Investments. The composition of the Blackstone consortium is also notable as Mr. Wilson has been eager to re-enter the insurance business since parting with AIA in 2010. Despite a failed attempt for AIG to sell its Asian assets to Prudential PLC (PRU.LN), the insurer has installed Prudential's former chief executive Mark Tucker as chief executive. AIG still owns about 19% of AIA. Mr. Wilson was reported last year by the Financial Times to be raising funds to bid for British insurer Aviva PLC's (AV.LN) non-core emerging markets. Aviva said earlier this month it plans to exit a third of its units to boost its capital buffer. It has also hired two investment banks to conduct a strategic review and may consider breaking up the firm to boost value. -Write to Amy Or at amy.or@dowjones.com

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