"These reviews may or may not lead to transactions, and no decisions have yet been made in this regard," the Amsterdam-based company said. It declined to disclose advisers.
Thursday's announcement comes nearly six months after ING completed the sale on of ING Direct USA to McLean, Va..-based Capital One Financial Corp., for about $9 billion, including $6.3 billion in cash and $2.7 billion worth of shares in Capital One equivalent to a 9.7% stake.
The sale of Capital One was one of several ordered by the European Commission in 2009 in return for approval of €10 billion ($12.3 billion) in state bailout funding for the Dutch financial group.
A spokeswoman for ING said that the strategic review of ING Direct in the UK and Canada has nothing to do with the EC-ordered divestments - which includes a sale of its insurance operations by 2013. ING may give an update on developments when it releases second-quarter earnings next Wednesday.
In the meantime, the company remains in talks with the European Commission over an amended and updated restructuring plan amid an ongoing legal dispute over the original 2009 plan.
The spokeswoman declined to comment on the status of the auction of ING's Asian asset management business, which could raise an estimated $7 billion. Reported suitors include Blackstone Group LP, Swiss Re AG, MetLife Inc, America International Group Inc.'s AIA Group Ltd. and Korea Life Insurance Co.
ING is also considering breaking up its Asian life insurance operations, Bloomberg News reported earlier this week, citing people with knowledge of the process.
ING Direct Canada, founded in 1997, employs more than 1,1100 people as of March 31 and serves 1.8 million clients through call centers, the Internet, and ING Direct cafés. In the fourth quarter of 2011, the business had €22.7 7 billion worth of funds entrusted and a residential mortgage portfolio worth €22.3 billion.
ING Direct UK offers savings and mortgages products to more than 1.5 million customers in that country through online and mobile Internet channels, supported by two U.K.-based call centers. The unit had about 750 employees as of March 31. In the fourth quarter of 2011, ING Direct UK had €13.9 billion of funds entrusted and €5.8 billion in residential mortgages.
ING promised to make further announcements about the review if and when appropriate. It said that ING Direct operations in Australia, Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Spain are not on the block.
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