ING Named as Institutional Investor to Withdraw from Janus

August 17, 2004 ( - ING US Financial Services is expected to disclose in a SEC filing later today that it will drop Janus's Aspen funds from ING variable annuities and defined-contribution retirement plans by the end of the year.

Janus had announced in July that an institutional investor was withdrawing $5 billion from its Aspen Fund (see  Janus Reveals Planned $5B Redemption ). Despite a recent rebound in the fund’s performance, ING spokesman Cindy Schaus stated that the company was withdrawing for investment performance issues, as well as cash flow and investment talent worries. “We have a long-standing practice of continually reviewing and analyzing the products we select for our clients,” she said. “After thoughtful analysis, ING decided to proceed with removing [Janus Aspen funds] from our products, pending regulatory approval.”

Schaus declined to state where the recovered funds would be placed, although this information is expected to be released with the SEC filing.

This is certainly a blow for the scandal-rocked Janus fund, still reeling from the mutual fund trading scandal of almost a year ago. The withdrawal by ING represents about 3.7% of Janus’s $129 billion in assets under management on July 31. Despite the large amount expected to be withdrawn, possible disruptive effects to the Aspen Fund should be mitigated by IMG’s plan to collect ‘in kind,’ preferring to recover assets in the form of securities and not cash.

Janus representatives were realistic but optimistic at the news. The withdrawal “is disappointing because we’ve made a tremendous amount of progress on many fronts, including our funds’ performance and the regulatory settlement,” spokeswoman Shelley Peterson was quoted as saying, “but we’re extremely confident we can deliver for our shareholders.”

-Kip McDaniel