ING yesterday acquired a 17.5 per cent stake in the Mexican financial services group, Grupo Financiero Bital. The stake will cost $200 million. Bital, which is a leading retail banks in Mexico, will help ING distribute banking and insurance products in the central American state. ING has owned a 49 percent stake in a bancassurance joint venture with Bital, in which ING insurance products are distributed through bank branches, since 1998. The co-operation between ING and Bital dates back
to 1997, when both companies established Afore Bital, one of the largest pension funds in Mexico. In October 2000, ING acquired Bital’s interests in Afore Bital. ING also acquired the insurance company Seguros Comercial America in 2001, which has sizeable shares of the Mexican life, health, property and casualty insurance markets. Following the acquisition ING rebranded the company ING Commercial America. This rebranding also included Afore Bital.