NETHERLANDS - ING is to scale back its activities and return to core functions as it combines it global investment management businesses and prepares to shed assets worth up to €8bn (US$10bn).
Chief among the changes to the Benelux bank will be the merger of its global investment management divisions across Europe, the Americas and Asia-Pacific into a single unit, incorporating real estate investment management. ING said this would help the bank "benefit from synergies in marketing, operations and distribution and sales".
ING will try to raise a total of €6bn to €8bn by divesting certain businesses over the coming years, "as market conditions permit".
ING chief executive officer-designate Jan Hommen said: "As the economic crisis is fundamentally changing the financial services industry, now is the time to choose where ING has the scale and strength to succeed in the current environment and to position the company to be a leader when the markets recover."
The company also said it would review available options relating to the future of its non-core businesses, including employee benefits, group reinsurance and existing annuity books.
"As a result of this process, ING will become a more focused group, with substantial earnings power and significant growth potential. We are taking ING back to basics on all levels. We will be focusing on fewer but more transparent products," Hommen said.
This is the second structural change to ING's asset management business in less than a month.
In March, the firm revealed it would restructure ING Investment into a multi-boutique model as it worked to improve performance and better manage risk.
Officials said the €300bn ($US398.2bn) unit would abandon the traditional silo-based structure of having separate equity and fixed income divisions and instead have a series of smaller units including, among others, a strategy and asset allocation boutique and an emerging market boutique. (Globalpensions.com; 12 March 2009).
A spokesperson for ING said it was too early to ascertain whether the global restructuring would have an effect on these plans.
He said: "We cannot say nothing will change, but equally, we can't say it won't."
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