Dutch banking group ING announced this morning that it plans to scrap 7,000 jobs as part of a near €1bn (£873m) restructuring.
Cost savings of €900m by 2021 have been earmarked by ING, and the lay-offs represent approximately 12 per cent of the group's workforce. The job losses are the largest since its painful restructure at the height of the financial crisis in 2009.
Chief executive Ralph Hamers rebuffed any assumptions this was a sign ING was in financial trouble. In fact, he said it was because the group's fortunes had fared well recently that this was the right time to make the job cuts.
"You have to announce these programmes and these intentions at a time when you can afford them," Hamers said on a conference call.
We're strong right now, we have good results
Nevertheless, Hamers did lament having to take the decision and indicated it had already identified how much the redundancies will cost
"Regrettably, the steps and intentions announced today would mean a significant number of colleagues would have to leave ING. For the intended workforce reductions, a pre-tax redundancy provision of around €1.1bn is expected to be booked, of which €1.0bn in the fourth quarter of 2016."
The savings will be used to as part of the group's "Accelerating Think Forward" programme with €800m to be invested into what the group referred to as its "digital transformation" across Spain, Italy, France, Austria and the Czech Republic over the next five years.
"Customers are increasingly digital and bank with us more and more through mobile devices. Their needs and expectations are the same, all over the world, and they expect us to adopt new technology as fast as companies in other sectors," said Hamers.