Dutch bank ING posts strong Q1 profit
Leading Dutch bank ING on Thursday posted a sharp rise in first quarter net profit, boosted by a growth in lending and as the sale of its US-based insurance unit was finalised.
The bank recorded a profit of 1.77 billion euros ($2.0 billion), a sharp reversal from the 1.92 billion euro loss over the same period last year, ING said in a statement.
Last year's loss was attributed to ING's ongoing restructuring, as it sought to repay a 10 billion euro loan from the Dutch state issued at the height of the banking crisis in 2008.
"This strong performance was achieved despite the challenging operating environment, characterised by unprecedented low interest rates and the uneven economic recovery," ING chief executive Ralph Hamers said in the statement, issued from Amsterdam.
"During the quarter, we attracted 13.6 billion euros of net customer deposits and our core lending franchises grew by 6.9 billion euro," Hamers said.
The bank reimbursed its loan from the Dutch state with interest in November 2014, seven months ahead of schedule.
In February it announced its first dividend payment since being bailed out in 2008.
In exchange for the rescue, the European Commission had demanded the bank's restructuring including selling off its insurance activities. ING have sold off insurance divisions in Asia, the Americas and elsewhere.
In March it sold its remaining stake in US insurance company Voya for $2 billion, closing out its US activities in the sector.
Last year ING was hit with a 2.0 billion euro after-tax loss in the first quarter, relating to Voya's sale.
ING in July last year announced it was selling Dutch insurer NN Group in one of Europe's biggest initial public offerings for the year, expected to rake in 1.5 billion euros.
ING is progressively reducing its stake in NN Group and completely sell it off by the end of 2016.
In November it said it would slash 1,700 jobs over the next three years in the Netherlands as part of a simplification process and expanding its IT platform.
ING employs 53,000 people in 40 different countries and is listed on the Amsterdam, Brussels and New York Stock Exchange.
ING Group shares on the AEX index in Amsterdam Thursday gained 1.97 percent to close at 13.995 euros, with the overall market up 0.13 percent.
© 2015 AFP