ING is back in the black

BAILED-OUT Dutch bank ING bounced back into first-half profit yesterday and said it was on track to divest its insurance arm to comply with European rules on state aid.

A strong resurgence in retail banking helped push ING to a net gain of €2.4bn (£2bn) for the first six months of the year, up from a loss of €722m last year, when it was hit by heavy writedowns to its bond and property portfolios. Underlying profits from high street lending tripled to €944m year-on-year in the second quarter as the institution enjoyed higher interest margins on savings and put aside less cushioning for bad loans.

But performance was less spectacular at ING’s insurance division, which it aims to run on a standalone basis by the end of the year. The business snuck back to a slim pre-tax profit of €154m over the half and lost €115m in the second quarter.

Chief executive Jan Hommen said the unit would be floated or sold, with analysts estimating the total value at around €15bn. Proceeds will be used to repay the €5bn ING still owes the Dutch taxpayer.