After two fallow years, it seems ING has finally secured another Asian ABS mandate. ING will arrange an unwrapped credit card conduit deal for Korea's Samsung Card, according to bankers familiar with the transaction, an issuer it has previously worked with. The transaction is expected in the first quarter.

Although ING would not comment, it is believed it put in an aggressive pitch to fend off bids from a small group of competing banks.

The list is rumored to have included Merrill Lynch, considered particularly strong right now on Korean consumer credit deals, having led private placements for Korea First Bank among others. HSBC Securities was also invited to pitch, having arranged two deals for the issuer, including one late last year. Royal Bank of Scotland was another rumored bidder, having provided a $100 million warehouse facility for Samsung, while its ex-Japan Asian ABS head, Richard Lamb, had ties with the company during a previous stint with ING.

That ING overcame such strong opposition will be a tremendous fillip for Kevin Lam, the bank's head of ex-Japan Asian securitization. ING was at the forefront of the Korean cross-border market at the start of the decade. ING arranged deals for Samsung Capital and Samsung Card in 2001, following up in 2002 with a $500 million issue for Kookmin Card and a $210 million consumer-loan transaction for Samsung Capital in December. That was the last deal the bank completed in the region.

ING, like many other banks, suffered from the fallout of the Korean consumer finance sector in 2003, the source of most cross-border in ex-Japan Asia. But many of its rivals also linked its demise to the $500 million loss it took on the National Century Financial Enterprises scandal in late 2002. It was suggested its conduit effectively shut down for a year - a fact ING denied (ASR 7/12/04) - but it is widely felt the bank became a lot more selective on what assets could be included.

With its Asian business largely conduit driven, and Korean consumer deals deteriorating through 2003, the effect of the NCFE-fallout must have been considerable.

Copyright 2005 Thomson Media Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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