Insurers interested in a ready platform to expand their Asian footprint had their chance Friday when first-round bids were accepted to buy ING Groep’s Asia life insurance unit. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity which many CEOs will find hard to let go,” said one banker who is advising a potential buyer. ING operates across seven Asians centers, and profits rose 39% in the first quarter of 2012 from a year ago to $282.2 million. Bankers and lawyers could earn about $100 million in fees if the deal is completed, said sources. Freeman & Co. estimates banks could make $60 million to $70 million in advisory fees, excluding financing, hedging and other revenue streams. The deal is estimated to be worth about $6.5 billion. Short-listed bidders are expected to be notified by the end of May.
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