ING Pares Down Asia Leveraged Finance Group

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Dutch financial services firm ING (ING.AS: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) has cut the size of its leveraged finance team in Asia but remains in that business, the company said on Thursday.

ING joins a spate of institutions that have cut bankers specialising in lending for private equity deals as the credit crunch bites.

An ING official said that there had been redundancies in Asia but declined to say how many.

ING spokesman Adrian Simpson in London said the team still continued to function in Asia, but redundancies had been made.

Earlier, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters that the bank had shuttered its dedicated leveraged finance team in Asia about three weeks ago.

The team included about five bankers, as well as support staff, and was headed by Patrick Degg, one of the sources said.

Degg could not be immediately reached for comment.

Leveraged buyouts have been one of the biggest casualties of the credit crunch, and banks that had built up teams for the once-lucrative business of lending for private equity buyouts have been shedding staff.

The Carlyle Group, a Washington-based private equity powerhouse, recently shut an Asia leveraged finance group that it had set up in May 2007. (Reporting by Tony Munroe; Editing by Erica Billingham)