NU Online News Service, Jan. 17, 2:45 p.m. – ING Groep N.V., Amsterdam, has signed a preliminary agreement that could lead to it forming a joint venture with Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., Melbourne, a large Australian bank.

The joint venture, which would be known was ING Australia Ltd., would sell life insurance and investment funds in Australia and New Zealand, ING says.

ANZ would contribute most of its life insurance and investment fund operations and get 49% of the stock. ING would contribute all of its Australian funds management and life operations, and most of its life distribution operations, and get 51% of the stock.

Both parties would have an equal say in strategic decisions, ING says.

The venture would use the ING brand for distribution through independent advisors, and the ANZ brand for distribution through ANZ.

The venture would not include the ING property-casualty insurance, banking, investment banking, investment management or real estate operations in Australia, ING says.

ING says the terms of the preliminary agreement, which is called a memorandum of understanding, are confidential, but it says it expects to release more information about the proposed venture in March.