ING Group likely to unload more assets

ING Group has reported another massive quarterly loss, raising the prospect of further sales of assets which might include part or all of its ING Direct banking operation.

AMSTERDAM — ING Group has reported another massive quarterly loss, raising the prospect of further sales of assets which might include part or all of its ING Direct banking operation.

The Dutch insurer and financial services provider said Wednesday it lost 793 million euros in the first quarter, equivalent to almost US$1.1 billion.

It cited falling asset prices, shaky insurance contracts and heavy restructuring charges.

The first-quarter setback followed a fourth-quarter loss of 3.1 billion euros, and it was down from a profit of 1.54 billion euros in the first quarter of last year.

The latest results included 1.7 billion euros worth of “negative impacts stemming from the market turmoil,” ING stated.

“Market conditions remained challenging in the first quarter as equity markets declined further, credit spreads remained elevated, real estate prices continued to fall and loan losses increased as the crisis spread from the financial markets to the real economy,” said chief executive Jan Hommen, who took the job after his predecessor resigned in January.

“In this environment, our first priorities are to reduce costs, risk and leverage to strengthen the group,” Hommen stated.

“At the same time, we are working to reduce complexity by focusing on fewer businesses and markets.”

He didn’t provide any forecast, as “markets are volatile and the economic environment continues to be uncertain.”

ING shares fell nine per cent on the New York Stock Exchange.

The group’s insurance business lost 979 million euros, afflicted by bad investments and a 550-million writedown of insurance contracts.

The banking division had a pretax profit of 700 million euros. But banking provisions for bad loans rose to 772 million euros.

The first quarter also took a 329-million-euro hit from restructuring costs.

ING announced 7,000 job cuts in January, five per cent of its global workforce, and said Wednesday that 5,380 have been eliminated so far.

In February, it raised C$2.2 billion by unloading its 70 per cent interest in its Canadian insurance operation, ING Canada, now renamed Intact Financial Corp. ING still owns all of ING Direct, a branchless bank which likely could be sold quickly to raise more cash.

“I think it would be quite attractive,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at MacDougall, MacDougall and MacTier in Toronto.

Unlike ING Canada, which was sold widely to institutional buyers and the public, ING Direct would probably go as a unit to another financial institution that wants to raise deposits, Nakamoto suggested.

“The ones that come to mind are maybe like an insurance company — Manulife, or Sun Life, or Great-West Life, guys like Power Financial.”

Nakamoto noted that ING Direct also operates in the United States and other parts of the world, and might be sold as an international unit to a global player — although many other big global financial players are in similar straits.

— With files from The Associated Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The interchange at Highway 2 and McKenzie Road at the south end of Gasoline Alley is being redesigned with two roundabouts. Detours will be in place at either end of the overpass during construction, which is expected to begin this month and finish in October. (Graphic from Red Deer County)
Roudabouts coming to McKenzie Road overpass at Gasoline Alley

Project expected to improve traffic flow at busy intersections

A federal strategy to preserve threatened trout could conflict with provincial coal leases in the Eastern Slopes of the Rockies. (Contributed photo by Jeff Lund).
Federal regulations could save Alberta’s bull trout by shutting down mining plans, says biologist

Ottawa’s new strategy identifies a 30-metre protected area along rivers and streams

(Contributed image)
Wolf Creek Public Schools will not participate in curriculum pilot

Central Alberta school jurisdiction joins others across Alberta

Sharis Carr, a nurse at the Aaron E. Henry Community Health Service Center in Clarksdale, Miss., holds a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine that was administered to seniors, Wednesday, April 7, 2021. A second COVID-19 vaccine is being investigated for possible links to blood clots, though the syndrome appears to be extremely rare. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Rogelio V. Solis
Vaccine-induced blood clots under more scrutiny as Canada reports first case

Vaccine-induced blood clots under more scrutiny as Canada reports first case

Jennifer Lopez, left, and Alex Rodriguez take a selfie as they arrive at the 26th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards in January 2020. VAX Live: The Concert to Reunite the World will showcase Lopez. (Photo by Matt Sayles/Invision/AP, File)
Selena Gomez and J.Lo headline vax concert for poor nations

NEW YORK — Backed by an international concert hosted by Selena Gomez… Continue reading

A vial of the vaccine by Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a company owned by Johnson & Johnson. Federal health officials in the U.S. said early Tuesday they were urging a pause in the use of Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine after reports of six serious blood clots, and officials in Washington state and around the country quickly complied. (Aristide Economopoulos/NJ Advance Media)
How J&J and AstraZeneca differ from the mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna

Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose COVID-19 vaccine has hit a stumbling block in… Continue reading

An emergency response worker carries an air monitoring device at the site of a crude oil spill at a Trans Mountain Pipeline pump station in Abbotsford, on Sunday, June 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Failed fitting caused 190,000-litre spill at Trans Mountain site in B.C.: TSB

VANCOUVER — A Transportation Safety Board report says the failure of a… Continue reading

Indigenous leaders, experts urge Ottawa to quickly pass UNDRIP bill before election

OTTAWA — Indigenous leaders and legal experts are pushing federal lawmakers to… Continue reading

Visitors to a roadside memorial pay their respects in Portapique, N.S., on Friday, April 24, 2020. The Canadian Red Cross confirmed today it has collected $6.2 million in donations to help the families in rural Nova Scotia affected by the mass shooting last spring that claimed 22 lives. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Red Cross collects $6.2 million for families affected by Nova Scotia mass shooting

HALIFAX — Canadians and people from around the world donated $6.2 million… Continue reading

Hindu devotees wearing face masks as a precautionary measure against the coronavirus stand in a queue to offer prayers inside a temple dedicated to goddess Kali in Jammu, India, Tuesday, April 13, 2021. New infections have surged in the past month and India has now reported over 13.6 million cases — pushing its toll past Brazil, and making it second only to the United States. In the past 24 hours, over 160,000 new infections have been detected and experts fear that the worst is yet to come. (AP Photo/Channi Anand)
Johnson & Johnson delays shot rollout in Europe

BERLIN — Johnson & Johnson says it is delaying the rollout of… Continue reading

Restaurant workers and restaurant delivery workers wait in line to sign up for Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine at a mobile vaccine site, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the Sunset Park neighborhood of New York. The mobile vaccination effort includes two buses equipped with four to six vaccinators each, delivering the COVID-19 vaccine directly to communities most in need. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)
US recommends ‘pause’ for J&J vaccine over clot reports

WASHINGTON — The U.S. is recommending a “pause” in using the single-dose… Continue reading

Most Read