May 9, 2012 / 5:43 AM / 7 years ago

ING to renegotiate EU restructuring deal

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch financial services group ING ING.AS is set to renegotiate a restructuring agreed with the European Commission in return for a 10 billion euro ($13 billion) state bailout, potentially resulting in fewer sales of smaller assets.

Netherlands' ING banking and insurance group building is seen in Amsterdam. REUTERS/Toussaint Kluiters/United Photos

The sale or listing of ING’s insurance and investment management operations in Asia, Europe and the United States will not be affected and are going ahead as planned, ING Chief Executive Jan Hommen told reporters.

ING, which reported better-than-expected underlying first-quarter results on Wednesday, won a court challenge against an EU ruling in March on the state aid it received during the 2008 global financial crisis.

ING said it has begun discussions with the Dutch government and they will soon start talks with the European Commission.

Hommen declined to comment on how the restructuring might change as a result of the talks. One possibility is that ING may get a reprieve from having to sell its Dutch banking unit WestlandUtrecht, analysts have said.

“In March there was a favorable ruling by the general court where they partially annulled the restructuring program. We are required as the consequence of that partial annulment to go back and renegotiate that,” ING Chief Financial Officer Patrick Flynn told broadcaster CNBC.

The European Commission will appeal against the court ruling, a commission spokesman was cited as saying by Dutch news agency ANP on Tuesday.

ING is expected to sell its Asian insurance and investment management operations later this year, which would help it to repay 3 billion euros it still owes the government, plus a penalty of 50 percent.

Hommen said he would have more detail on the sale at the end of June. “This process is running, it’s running well. There is a lot of interest but I cannot make any more comment,” Hommen said.

ING was making good progress to prepare its insurance and investment management businesses for stand-alone futures in Europe and the United States, Hommen said.

ING plans to divest these operations by the end of 2013, preferably by listing them in Europe and the United States.

ING’s first-quarter net profit was lower than expected at 680 million euros, compared with analysts’ average estimate of 1.2 billion euros.

CFO Flynn told CNBC that was due to certain charges, including a provision of 370 million euros post-tax for potential settlement with U.S. authorities about payments made by the commercial bank before 2007.

ING’s underlying results, which exclude divestments and special items, were mostly better than expectations.

($1 = 0.7695 euros)

Reporting by Gilbert Kreijger; Editing by Erica Billngham

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