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ING, Manulife Expand In China

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NU Online News Service, Feb. 8, 1:22 p.m. –The ING Groep N.V., Amsterdam, and Beijing Capital Group, Beijing, say they want to set up a life insurance joint venture in Dalian, China.

ING Insurance International B.V., an ING unit, and Beijing Capital have signed a letter of intent describing the venture, ING says.

The letter calls for ING Insurance and Beijing Capital to each own 50% of the stock of the venture. ING Insurance would manage the day-to-day operations.

Beijing Capital is affiliated with the Beijing Municipal Government.

ING already participates in the Pacific Aetna Life Insurance Company joint venture in Shanghai. Aetna Inc., Hartford, started the Shanghai venture in early 2000, about a year before ING acquired its international insurance operations.

ING has had four representative offices of its own in China since 1993. The offices are in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Dalian.

ING also owns real estate investment and stock investment operations in China.

Earlier this week, another western insurer, Manulife Financial Corp., Toronto, said it would be asking the Chinese government permission to expand its own life insurance sales network in China. Manulife said it would like to have joint venture operations in Dalian as well as Beijing, Qingdao and other cities.

Manulife has had to sell life insurance through a joint venture in Shanghai since 1996, and it is now setting up a venture in Guangzhou.