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ING''s new FIG strategy has seen it go into partnership with a Singapore IT firm.

What started out as a bunch of cloggies from Amsterdam trying to save the world's dodgiest banks from their own incompetence, has turned into an interesting business line at ING.

This fact has become even more pronounced now that it has signed a partnership agreement with Singapore's eBworx, an IT solutions company.

The business area in question is called Institutional and Government Advisory (IGA) and involves sending expat Dutch commercial bankers into badly performing banks in emerging markets. This started off as a work of goodwill, designed to create strong relationships in key emerging market countries.

However, the dour Dutch bankers proved so successful at overhauling management and risk systems that soon the investment bankers at ING started touting their services. In Asia, ING won its first contract in Indonesia, where it continues to have a complement of staff in Lippo Bank, and where it first met eBworx, which was advising the bank on new computer systems.

The two also bumped into each other when ING was mandated to send its credit stormtroopers into Taiwan's Chang Hwa recently. Indeed, ING's IGA team has now worked with Siam Commercial Bank and Korea's KEB, while eBworx has worked with UOB, OCBC, BCA, Equitable PCI and AMMB. eBworx is a part of Singapore listed company, CSE.

Their tie-up is designed to increase the amount of new advisory business both firms win from banks, and guess what, China is the prime focus.

ING has very few competitors in this field; the only other firm really being Deutsche Bank.

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