ING is selling three-quarters of ING Advisors Network to Lightyear Capital LLC, a private-equity firm run by Donald B. Marron, the former chairman and chief executive officer of PaineWebber Group Inc.

A definitive agreement signed by both firms and announced this week calls for ING to sell three of its U.S. independent retail broker-dealers to Lightyear, based in New York. The transaction, the terms of which were not disclosed, is subject to regulatory approvals and is expected to close in the first quarter of 2010.

The sale encompasses three-quarters of ING Advisors Network and includes Financial Network Investment Corp., based in El Segundo, Calif.; Multi-Financial Securities Corp., based in Denver, Colo.; PrimeVest Financial Services Inc., based in St. Cloud, Minn.; and ING Brokers Network LLC, the holding company and back-office shared services supporting those broker-dealers, which collectively do business as ING Advisors Network.

ING will retain ING Financial Advisers Inc., based in Windsor, Conn., and ING Financial Partners Inc., based in Des Moines, Iowa. ING chose to retain these broker-dealers because they are closely affiliated and play a key role in ING's strategy in the U.S. which focuses on retirement services, life insurance and rollover annuities.

"This transaction simplifies ING's structure in the U.S., and allows us to focus resources and capital on our core retirement services, life insurance and rollover annuity businesses," said Tom McInerney, member of the Management Board Insurance of ING Group.

Marron said the deal was a great one for Lightyear. "We have decades of experience and leadership in the broker-dealer industry and recognize the current and future potential of this network of broker-dealers. Financial Network, Multi-Financial and PrimeVest are excellent organizations with teams of highly-motivated and talented advisors," said Marron, Lightyear's chairman and CEO.

The three ING units being sold had combined gross revenues of approximately $653 million for the 12 months ending June 30. They had account assets of $70.2 billion and roughly 5,700 representatives at the end of the second quarter of 2009.

High-level management changes as a result of the deal don't sound forthcoming. "As CEO of ING Advisor Network, Valerie Brown has done an excellent job in recruiting and retaining top talent and building a strong culture of customer service. We are pleased that Valerie and her team will continue to lead this effort," added Stewart Gross, Lightyear's managing director.