AMSTERDAM - ING Group said Wednesday that its U.S. subsidiary Aetna International Inc. had agreed to sell its 95% interest in Aetna Heiwa Life Insurance Co. in Japan to Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Co.

The Springfield, Mass., company launched a $19 million tender offer Wednesday for all shares of the $4.5 billion-asset unit. The purchase is expected to close by late August.

It would be MassMutual's first move into the Japanese market. ING, which bought Aetna International from Aetna Inc. in December, would have a presence there through a joint venture it plans to launch Oct. 1 with Principal Financial Group Inc. to provide defined contribution.

Aetna Heiwa's employees include more than 1,700 sales representatives in 93 sales offices and 623 home office and field office staffers. The insurer would become a part of MassMutual International, and would significantly expand MassMutual's Asian and overseas operations.

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